Nerudova Street, Prague, Czechia
A New Take on Intentional Faith Travel - more of an essay than a newsletter
This morning I’m huddled in a Starbucks corner waiting for inspiration and determined to squeeze out a few ounces of creativity before taking off for NYC early tomorrow morning. It’s been a mad couple of weeks, and I’m feeling quite scattered. Don’t you just hate that? But I keep telling myself that centering is coming. Four days in the City while attending a retreat with Pastor’s Priests and Guides is fast approaching, and I think I need this more than I even know.
Side Question: What are the best things you’ve done in the City for free or relatively cheap?
As for today, amongst the barista clashes and clanks, and all those familiar sounds which best create our caffeinated world, I want to take you on a bit of a journey. But before I do, you probably want to go back to my previous post and take a listen to the presence practice I recorded a few weeks ago. It will definitely help today’s story make more sense.
Speaking About Intentional Faith Travel
While I was in Europe on our most recent BSL Curated Journey, I received an Instagram message inviting me to speak about faith travel at the National Tour Association Conference in Wyoming. It was there that I got to share for the first time to an in-person crowd about my unique take on faith and travel. They were an unsuspecting bunch of business men and women who live in the world of tour guiding and travel systems creating…not my normal crowd, but they were such a lovely group of travelers.
And it was there that I was reminded of the profound experience of travel once again.
It was there that I became even more convinced that travel and faith really do go hand in hand.
In the presence practice that I led you through in that recent post, I simply suggested you return to a significant travel experience in your life. That’s actually how I opened up my session, too. We lit a candle as a reminder that Jesus (or our faith) was with us, and we explored what we could see, smell, feel in the middle of our most significant travel memory. We considered the transformation and healing that was taking place in us in those moments. We considered how that particular journey changed the trajectory of our lives, and we explored the simplicity of being able to return in our minds eye in the moments when the travel bug was loud, and the next trip was further down the calendar than we would like.
We also considered our faith in the moment…what did Jesus (or our faith deep within) want us to know or see? Where was Jesus (our guide) in the middle of our memory, and what was he wanting us to experience?
Well, I told you that in my next post I would share with you about where I journeyed during that exercise, and here it is…
Nerudova Street Saved Me
In 2018 I was spent. I was at the end of a grueling six-year journey of adopting our fourth daughter, Hanh, from Vietnam. The emotional rollercoaster of highs and lows had taken a toll on me that I was unaware of until I found myself lying in bed one night, bawling my eyes out. The weight of six years had nestled itself into my body in such a way that I was left me feeling scared, angry and completely detached from the Amy I had once known.
The overall consensus of my family was that I was not doing well. I fully agreed. And I went to bed that night feeling lost.
Somewhere in the middle of the night I awoke to what felt like the most random memory of a conversation I had overheard years before. The memory took me to a table in a bar with a bunch of friends, and the conversation was about the most beautiful cities in the world.
I remember being jolted out of bed as I recalled Alan, the world traveler, say that by far the most beautiful city he had even seen was Prague. He said, “If you ever go anywhere in Europe, it has to be Prague.” (mind you, this was long before Prague became popular, and I may not have even known where it actually was.)
And there it was. That’s what I needed. This is what my soul longed for. This was my answer.
To be honest, at that moment I didn’t see the revelation as being from Jesus. I wasn’t connected or curious enough to connect the dots. But looking back, I am certain that he was throwing me a lifeline that night. Fast-forwarding a few weeks later, it turned out the rescue I desperately needed was both completed and also ignited on Nerudova Street in Prague, Czechia, on a cold March day in 2018.
And as it turned out, it was grief…”rock bottom”…the inability to rub sticks together and make things better…that finally brought me to a place to be able to experience a whole new story that was about to unfold.
I Credit Big Story Living to Nerudova Street
Prague is where I journeyed on my very first solo trip to Europe. And every time I return, whether it be in person or in my mind’s eye, I am reminded of BEAUTY. I stand in full agreement that this has got to be the most beautiful city in the world. Your eyes can’t land on even a crack that doesn’t cry out.
Prague is dark and bright, gray and sun-kissed.
The long history of Czechia is gritty, faith-filled and faith-less.
Kind of like me.
And her streets…especially Nerudova Street…will forever feel like a “coming home” to my soul.
There, a transformation happened. There, a trajectory was set. There I saw beauty and smelled a future of wonder and delight amongst the aromas of vepro knedlo zelo and goulash, pilsner and hot wine. What was lost became found in me in Prague.
And it was Nerudova Street where I sat in Choco Café on that cold March day and imagined what soon became Big Story Living…where faith and travel are seen as perfect partners…Big Story Living, where the journey that some think can only be experienced on holy travels such as to the Holy Land or the Camino de Santiago actually come alive in any and every city in the world that tops a bucket list.
We are each drawn to different places in the world for reasons, and I am now a deep believer that there can be more to those longings than just a nice passing thought at a bar one random night. Intentional faith travel can happen everywhere we go if we just remain curious, expectant and slow the pace enough to wonder at the beauty.
For me, I’m not necessarily drawn to the traditional ways of faith travel. Instead, my soul longs for the Camino de Prague, the Camino de Florence, the Camino de Lisbon or Nepal or Boston, and I believe now that they are a real thing. A beautiful gift.
If our faith resides deep within and goes with us to every corner of the world our feet land, then faith and travel simply can’t be separated, right?
So how about we just go and be free? Explore where our heart longs to be.
Very moving story.