Odysseus and a government monitoring travel!

It seems a bit bizarre, but the government seem to want to know our travels this year (well, for one month anyway).  Sadly the month our household was chosen, was October, in which was my busiest month and no travel was to be reported.  I mean, when I say no travel, I did actually travel a lot.  But not according to their criteria of purely leisure travelling.

I thought I would make a blog post about it just so that it may be noted not only in government records, but also for all to see:

Therein lies the form that speaks of the tragic month where no travel didst occur.

Well, none from me anyway – just my two housemates!  But for every month that one does not travel, one dreams of travel, or one hankers back to the days of travelling.  Like an insatiable desire, the lust of travel isn’t helped by signing forms to say one does not do it.

The response of a Jesus-follower is not primarily that of Homer’s Odysseus, who was trying to sail past the most powerful, alluring songs of the Greek Sirens on the rocks nearby (the fate of many a sailor), by putting beeswax in his crew’s ears and binding himself to the mast so they couldn’t be lured:

“Past the island drove the dark-prowed ship, but the sirens seeing it began their sweet song. ‘Come hither, come hither, brave Odysseus,’ they sang. ‘Here stay thy black ship and listen to our song. No one hath ever passed this way in his ship till he hath heard from our lips the music that is sweet as honeycomb, and hath had joy of it, and gone on his way the wiser. All things are known to us. We will sing to thee of thy great fights and victories in Troyland. We shall sing of all the things that shall be hereafter. Come hither, come hither, Odysseus!’

So sweet and so full of magic were their voices, that when Odysseus had heard their song, and seen them smilingly beckoning to him from amongst the flowers, he tried to make his men unbind him.” (Odyssey XII)

The binding and beeswax does indeed work for Odysseus here, but I’m not sure it necessarily does so in real life when our hearts are captivated by something.  No, when my heart yearns to explore this world and to travel, or spends its unproductive hours mulling over what already was, I need a better song to be sung.  A more alluring one.  One that is so sweet, so clear, so all-consuming that all other songs sound a faint and distant clanging in comparison.

And that for me is the song of my maker.  The song of a Jesus who promises more in due time.  The song of one who knows that I am made for something more.  The song that woos me to taste of sweeter joys and find satisfaction in them.  Come, listen to that song!


Our travel dreams are too small!


Travel and God.  Most of us may quake when we want to mix God and anything!  For many of us in Ireland he is the ultimate show-stopper.  The strait jacket that has bored us for one mass too many, and robbed us of the pleasure of going out and enjoying life.  The guilt stick in the corner, raised to hit us over the knuckles should we enjoy themselves a bit too much.  And surely travelling the world is probably in that category – most good things seem to be!

We think he’s a bit like Father Ted above, out to curb our freedom, for no particular reason.

But contrary to that, CS Lewis (the Irishman and Oxford Professor) says some fascinating things:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” (The Weight of Glory, and other essays)

Lewis would suggest that the cry of God when we spend our lives craving the next travel experience, lusting over the holiday photos that our best friend just put up online, living for our holidays or whatever more subtle versions of the above, is that we are too easily pleased!  We’re like the child in the slum!  Ironically the holiday at the sea is nowhere to be found in our lives.  Lewis seems to be saying that God would say: “Dream bigger!  There’s far more out there”.

And not more holiday, or more world.  But more of the infinite One who made it all!  If travel is soo good, then how much more the One who generously gave it all.


All very nice, but how do we know this “God” described above is not just a projection of our imagination, a comfort blanket for weak people or simply wish fulfilment?  Where are the signs that should be so obvious and where we want them to be?  Well, that’s a question I might come back to some other time (and Lewis does, in his easily read “Mere Christianity”) but for now I’ll finish with Lewis who thinks that this is at least a small sign:

“The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.” (Mere Christianity)

Made for another world.

Made for a better world.

A new Heavens and Earth where the infinite God will whisper “Bigger, bigger!  Dream Bigger!” and we’ll wish we never spent so long in slums, playing with mud pies without Him.