I’ve gotten pretty good at air travel the past few years. Nick and I dated, and were engaged, long distance—he was in Virginia while I was in Texas. Now, we are in Virginia and our family is in Texas.
Luckily, I like traveling. I actually enjoy being in airports and on planes…for the most part. I especially like traveling alone. I get in this zone of simultaneous efficiency and go-with-the-flow attitude. I like packing light and having everything I need within arms’ reach. My rule? If I can’t carry it myself, it can’t come along.
This past weekend I took a solo trip to Austin to visit family for early holiday celebrations.
On the way home to Charlottesville, as I went through security the TSA agent had no questions for me. She just looked at my bins with my laptop out of its case, my liquids and snacks (why are we taking snacks out of our bags now??) in their neat little bag, and my socked, shoeless feet, and said, “you’re very organized.” I’m too proud of myself for earning that compliment.
As I made my way back to VA, I got to thinking—Tuesday Thinkingif you will—about the middle space of air travel.
Air travel…it’s sort of a weird thing, right? I traveled for seven hours yesterday and went from Austin, to Chicago, to Charlottesville without ever going outside.
I sat on a plane with people I’ll probably never see again, and yet I had a pretty intimate conversation as my seatmate shared with me stories from the last hours of her father’s life.
I watched a sunset while in the clouds.
I saw a full moon reflect in flashes on bodies of water on the ground.
I sat in fear with a bunch of strangers as our pilot aborted our landing into Charlottesville after our wheels just barely kissed the ground. We climbed back into the air and circled before making a second (successful) attempt. Everything about those moments felt wrong in my body. Somehow it felt like we were going down, and yet also going up all at once. Everyone was tense.
Since I travel so much I’ve stopped thinking about how absurd it is that we are just hanging in the air and how little control I have over my own safety. I was reminded of those facts as we circled over Charlottesville last night.
When I’m not being reminded of my mortality, I like air travel because I can hurtle through the sky while also catching up on podcasts and work here and there. I’m tucked into my little space with just enough to keep me occupied.
I actually get some of my best thinking done on planes. I get nauseous from reading, writing, and watching or working on things on the computer so I have to take frequent breaks. I often find myself processing recent events or creative projects I’m working on.
In many ways, my time on planes is a time of preparation. Yesterday I listened to a podcast that we will discuss later this week over dinner with some friends. I wrote an email connecting with another friend across the world that I’m hoping to see in person soon. I brainstormed topics for this blog post. I listened to music and began orienting myself back toward life at home with Nick and Britt dog.
Since moving to Charlottesville I’ve begun arranging my days and weeks with more margin, more middle time. Today, Wednesday, is actually my sabbath. I adjusted things a bit since I wasn’t able to get a post written while traveling yesterday and wanted to spend time with my little family when I got home last night. Usually I wouldn’t write and post on the blog while I’m sabbathing. Instead, what I try to do is rest. Spend time outside. Quiet the noise and striving within me and sit with God in a little carved out space for a while. I did that this morning, and I’ll do it again as soon as I hit post on this. A lot of people sabbath on Fridays or Saturdays or Sundays…but since Nick is a pastor our weekends are actually work time. My work is flexible so I’ve structured things so I work when he does, that way we get downtime together. I sabbath solo though—at least in this season.
Wednesdays for me are a time to turn my work brain off and notice the world around me. I may go for a hike later today. I may read a book that is unrelated to work. I may do some cooking or baking. I may take a nap. I may pull out a photography book and play with my camera a bit. Tonight, I will go to spiritual direction where I will continue to notice where God is present and how I can be more attuned to that loving presence every day.
Yes, Wednesdays—like travel days—are a nice in-between for me. A good time of rest and preparation. A break from everyday chores and tasks. Like getting on the plane and trusting the pilot to take off, fly, and land well, taking time out for sabbath requires trust, too. I like to work. I like accomplishing things. I get a lot of validation from that. But I have to rest. And I have to trust that God loves me simply for being and not for what I do. That’s hard. I also have to trust that there will be enough time later for the important things to get done.
Sabbath reminds me what the important things actually are.
Sabbath reminds me to slow down and enjoy God and creation.
Sabbath reminds me that I am vulnerable and yet completely loved.
What about you? Do you have middle spaces? How are they forming you?