I’ve been on alot of trips that were planned by others this past few months.
In May and early June it was a week in Somerset, England with the Friendship Force (www.FriendshipForce.org) where our accomodating hosts treated us to breakfast, lunch and dinner with trips from Bath to Stonehenge and many in between. We didn’t have to do anything but unpack our suitcases, eat, dress, bathe and sleep. Everything was planned.
Except for my unreasonable request to my dear hostess, Pat Hollocombe, if we might visit a town called Todmorden.
Of course, I had no idea where Todmorden was, except I knew England was a smallish country. Todmorden is home to the Incredible Edible Project started by Mary Clear and four friends at the Bear Cafe overlooking the Victorian library with the clear mission to feed everyone in town eventually.
It was 7 1/2 hours by three trains to Todmorden, but my indominable hostess took me anyway, all the way to Yorkshire! It was a true God Trip. She had not even heard of it, nor the project, but she was a true trooper in the “Life is a God Trip” mold.
We arrived on the train platform and there were three barrels filled with forget me nots, an apple tree and broccoli. Not your normal train platform. Down in the carpark there was a huge raised bed with a sign that said, “Donkey manure working.” There was a sign with all the vegetables that would be planted there in a few weeks and how to cook them. For you see, in Todmorden, these vegetables and fruits are for the taking. It’s all a radical plan to save the world, one person at a time, planting on public land, cared for by volunteers, creating fellowship and becoming sustainable. Sometimes, all you need in life is someone who says “Yes,” to your unreasonable request.
Sometimes you just need a friend!
My sister, Patricia and I still take God trips together
My sister and I grew up in a family which I only recently realized was not entirely normal. Most people who start out going to the movies, go to the movies. Not our family.
Dad and Mom called them “mystery trips.” My younger sister, Patricia and I would think we were going to go see a “Ma and Pa Kettle” movie but in the trunk of the Buick were out little blue suitcases packed for who knows where. One time we ended up in Cape Cod. Dad followed the red lights of the car in front of us because that was all we could see in the pea soup fog. We ended up following the man’s car into his garage. Guess where we slept that night? (The family did take us in. After all, we had our pajamas and toothbrush.)
Another time we thought we were going to an amusement park and we ended up in the Thousand Islands. Another time our car broke down in a town so small they didn’t have a motel, and we stayed in the home of the local banker who just happened by the gas station.
God Trip Rule: What I learned from those trips is to simply let go.
God trips are all about NOT knowing where you will end up. All you need to do is follow where God leads you. You might have an idea of where you think you are going, but as Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”
I am writing this blog because it is on these trips that I have learned the most about trust. I am never late, never in the wrong place, never with the wrong person, never lost. Rather I am on time, in the right place, with the right person and always where I am supposed to be.
As Mitch Hedberg once said, “I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.”
Meanwhile, enjoy the trip…and let me know where you end up. And pack some pj’s.
Mr. Electric showed up in minutes
His name was Tommy Dudley and what he said in the Yellow Pages was true.
My sister had been out of town for a few days and when she returned she noticed the waterfall that cooled the water in her fish pond had stopped. We had a heat index of 105 degrees yesterday, and her fish were hiding under a rock and the algae was growing.
“I will have to wait until Monday,” she said mournfully. “My electrician can’t come until then.”
Remembering that old adage, “Let your fingers do the walking”, we looked in the Yellow Pages under Electrician, and there he was: Mr. Electric. His ad read, “Your Expectation: Immediate Response.” She called him, and within half an hour he and his companion arrived in two vans, diagnosed the problem, (no, it wasn’t the chipmunk eating through the wires as we had thought), did a temporary fix until a new pump which had shorted could be purchased, and voila! Water falling.
What else did it say in their ad? “We have the power to make things better!”
You can believe it. After all, it was a God Trip.
God Trip Rule: One door closes, another opens and sometimes you don’t even have to leave the house.
OK, now I should not be surprised.
When my daughter, Christine reached for her camera on the boat trip around Manhattan, May 10th, it was gone. It had all her family vacation pictures from Florida, Virginia and New York City and special ones of her visit with her best friend, Amy in Alexandria. But as my friend, Kate always says, “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” We both had faith it would show up some day.
So where did her camera go? Read the email I received yesterday:
I am emailing you because my mother found a hot pink camera in a taxi in NYC and
I found a picture of a computer with this website and recognized you! I’m sorry
for looking at the pictures, but I wanted to see if I could return the camera.
Please let me know where I can mail it to you. I live in Venezuela, but I can
send it to you during the weekend of June 18th because I will be flying to
If it is not yours but you know who it belongs to, please let me know so I can
Yes. Christine will get her camera back from someone in Venezuela and as God trips always go: we have made a new friend. Thank you, Alexandra. You have a great Mom. Maybe some day we can all meet in New York City.
Christine on the boat just before realizing her camera was missing out of her shorts pocket
“The greatest of all human needs is to feel connected.” Darryl Kollman
God trips invariably include food. I mean the body needs its fuel, right? One of the best kept secrets in deliciously prepared Slow Food can be found at the University of Virginia International Students’ sponsored cooking classes. They are open to the public and free. But you will need to register (see link below).
Yesterday afternoon I gathered with about 25 international students at the Lorna Sundberg International Center with my friends, Eusebio, Ryan, and Mahabuba for India/Bangladesh spicy food, featuring something I have never eaten before: goat. They called it mutton, but it was goat, from the Afghan Market in Charlottesville. Tender, spicy, tingly to the tongue, with a flavor all its own! And what people you will meet — Kate from Boston who taught with World Teach in China, Jennifer who was in the Peace Corps in Morocco, Eusebio from Mumbai who could open his own restaurant when he isn’t searching for the cure for ovarian cancer. Mahabuba from Bangladesh even sang her country’s songs with two of her countrywomen as the dishes were placed on the big diningroom table for all of us to savor.
Check out their website: http://www.virginia.edu/iso/ic/for upcoming programs. Next is French food, I believe. They are also on Facebook, University of Virginia Lorna Sundberg International Center.
Lorna Sundberg International Center
God Tripping usually includes delicious food, and this is the best, prepared in front of you, and you get to eat it too, meeting some very special people. It is a spiritual experience putting your feet under the table at 21 University Circle, Charlottesville, VA 22903.
We are in New York City!
And the smartest thing we did was get a hotel across from Penn Station, creatively named Hotel Pennsylvania. The porter who delightfully escorted Christine and me from Fast Train to faster 7th Avenue, jaywalked us with luggage on cart directly across the 5 lanes of mostly cab traffic and within 45 minutes of arriving in New York, we were in our room. Hungry.
Rule #1: When hotel concierge recommends local restaurant, he probably has a friend there. We walked into the Niles Restaurant, TV’s blaring in a bar and decided on this God trip, this wasn’t where we needed to be.
Basic Rule to God Trips: If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t His will. You see with God trips, you let whatever your concept of Higher Power is, guide you. My Higher Power is God, in Three Persons…yours is whoever spiritually guides you.
We moved on. “I want someplace intimate,” Christine said. And so we found it.
The restaurant’s name is Biricchino, a Northern Italian Slow Food restaurant at 260 West 29th Street and we were the only people there, but we weren’t the only people there when we left, two hours later.
To walk off the delicious slow food, we took the advice of Chelsea, our waitress
me and Christine on the High Line in NYC
to walk the High Line, a New York City park built on the tracks of the old “L” that runs from the Battery to Midtown. Tulips, green grass, trees, a view of the Hudson River at sunset. It doesn’t get much better than this.