Enjoy the Journey: BBC Radio 2 and Pause for Thought

bbcMy second “Pause for Thought” for BBC Radio 2 this year, which aired on the Richard Allinson Show, was on the subject of journeying. From earlier posts you may already know that I run a group for 16-24 year old Welsh Anglicans called The Journey, which emphasises that our faith can be viewed as a wonderful journey, rather than a destination. Many young people find this a liberating way of viewing faith. In my “Pause for Thought” I widen the concept of journeying to include, alongside the concept of faith as travelling, any actual journeys we may take and the idea of life itself as a journey.

EuropeI have just returned from our annual visit to my wife’s family in Bavaria. Last year we took the decision to drive all the way. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to the journey. It was, after all, going to be fourteen hours driving over three days, with a six year old and a ten year old in the back constantly asking if we’re nearly there yet! Yet I was to get a pleasant surprised. We had a great trip. From Wales we travelled through six different nations, passing stunning countryside and visiting various places on the way, including the Hoegaarden brewery in Belgium and Maastricht in the Netherlands, where we saw plenty of bicycles and tulips. We met many fascinating people on our travels and the European food was simply delightful! We also witnessed such beautiful scenery and were blessed to see all sorts of wildlife – deer, eagles, and even wild boar.

It’s interesting that when I now think of last year’s visit to Germany, it’s the long drive that I remember most. In our everyday lives, destinations have become so important to us, as we rush to get where we are going, and our journeys therefore often become merely a means to an end. We type the starting point and the destination into our Sat Navs, and the in-between almost becomes insignificant. Yet each of us can make a decision to enjoy our journeys – whatever form they take.

Lord of the RingsMy son is obsessed with the Lord of the Rings films and so we seem to have them showing on a loop in our house! I frequently tease him that the films are nothing but a group of Hobbits on a very long walk, then, after nine hours, they finally reach their destination. He argues back that this is exactly the point! He is right, of course, as even Tolkien himself reminds us that ‘not all those who wander are lost’. The hobbits, after all, are transformed by their travels, learning lessons of friendship, mutual support, and sacrifice.

enjoy the journeyThis year’s trip to Germany was by plane, so I missed out on last year’s wonderful car journey. But I still made sure I took time to even appreciate the flight. Journeys can certainly be boring sometimes, and they are not always smooth, but as we travel, it’s good to remind ourselves that it costs us nothing to enjoy the ride. As Ernest Hemmingway wrote: “it’s good to have an end to journey towards; but, in the end, it’s the journey itself that matters!”

Lost and Found: BBC Radio 2 and Pause for Thought

Earlier this month, BBC Radio 2 aired two “Pause for Thoughts” which I wrote and recorded for them. As the BBC hold the copyright on spiritual reflections that are aired on their shows, I am not allowed to reproduce them word-for-word here. However, for those of you who missed the broadcasts, I thought I’d give you some idea of what I said, while still keeping on the correct side of copyright law!

Anneka RiceThe first “Pause for Thought” was aired on Anneka Rice‘s show. It was on the subject of “lost and found” and was broadcast on the first full day of this year’s National Eisteddfod in Denbigh in North Wales. The Eisteddfod is a wonderfully uplifting Welsh language festival of music, literature, and performance. If you try to imagine the Edinburgh Fringe crossed with the Glastonbury festival, then place it in a big field in Wales, you’ll be some way to picturing the Eisteddfod. While the performances in the big tent take place through the medium of Welsh, there are enough fascinating events and stalls for the festival to appeal also to non-Welsh-speakers, and many hundreds cross the border to experience this unique event.

eisteddfodWhen I was younger, I remember being enthralled by the music, literature, dance, theatre, and food as I wandered around the huge field. It is a wonderful celebration of Wales’ heritage, where old and new, traditional and modern, stand side-by-side. The festival started in the twelfth century, but was reintroduced in ninteenth century in an attempt to revive an under-threat language and culture. This centuries-old festival was almost lost, but now is being reinvented in a lively, engaging, and vibrant manner.

golfI was thinking about this recently and it dawned on me how many things I’d personally lost down the years – not only the countless objects I’d misplaced, but also skills I’d left unused and friendships to which I’d not given enough time. My thoughts drew me to dig out my dusty, old golf clubs and call an old golfing friend. I felt revived and rejuvenated as I played my first round in ten years. Even my dreadful score didn’t detract from an inspiring and uplifting few hours, as I caught up with all my friend’s news and enjoyed the beautiful countryside.

lost and foundWhile we sometimes lose things we will never get back, other things inspire new life in us when we discover them again. In many of his parables (the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal son, etc), Jesus talks about the joy we can feel at finding things that we thought was lost, a joy that God himself feels when things precious to him are rescued. Perhaps all of us should consider rescuing something that used to be precious to us, so as to bring a little more joy into our everyday lives – we could explore a language that we used to speak, reignite a friendship that had been lost in the busy-ness of life, or reaquaint ourselves with a sport or musical instrument we used to play. We might not all be talented enough to get to the Eisteddfod stage, but we can at least take comfort in the fact that we too can rejoice with God that something that was once lost has now been found!