by Alan Imberg
As many of you know, I travel frequently for my job. While many look upon the travel I do as an exciting and enviable thing, it is not without formidable physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. These challenges have to be incorporated into my professional skill set and, as with the other aspects of my profession, tools are required to “get the job done”. Aside
1. Several books: Both the kind that are spiritually feeding and those purely for mind numbing entertainment. I always pack more books than I’ll ever finish on a trip but this is the one item that I’m ok with over-packing…..and, no, I will not conform to an electronic reader. Electronic devices must be shut off on a plane until 10,000 feet. That’s a good 15-20 minutes of lost reading time. from the tools in my tool bag needed to do the actual job, I also have several metaphorical “tools” that I will not leave home without:
2. A chained wallet: I know many people think of a chained wallet as a fashion accessory but it is a fully functional item for me. Trying reaching for your wallet to pay for something in Oregon when your wallet is still on a plane to Atlanta. Not a good feeling….
3. A Bible
4. My iPod. On this device are playlists with over 1600 songs ranging from Moroccan folk music to Miles Davis to Meshuggah (Swedish Heavy Metal).
Of all these tools, the iPod is the most indispensable because it gives me moments of peace and isolation from the stress and distractions of travel.
Recently, another play list has been added to my iPod: Pastor Keith’s sermon podcast which is available for free subscription via ITunes as well as the church website. This has become a “must” on my iPod and my most cherished “tool” for dealing with the stress of travel.
Of all the challenges of traveling, my biggest is dealing with the feeling of separation from family, friends, and familiar places. I have spent weeks in foreign countries by myself where the sense of isolation can become overwhelming. While I’ve learned to cope with this, there are still times when it feels like “slow-simmer mourning” for home. This will inevitably affect my spiritual health as well. Feelings of isolation from friends and family can morph into a feeling of separation from God if I’m not diligent about my spiritual practices of prayer, meditation, and study (which, even when I’m home, I’m not the most disciplined).
The aforementioned books and Bible help with my spiritual practices as does regular prayer. But now I have a very potent addition in the podcast in that it gives me not only spiritual food for thought via my beloved Pastor, but also a powerful connection to home. It’s a wonderful experience to be stuck in a taxi in a Sao Paulo, Brazil, put on the headphones, and listen to Pastor Keith’s voice (or Sue’s in the case of one podcast) along with the murmurs and laughter of my church congregation. The familiarity melts away any sense of geographical separation. And I get to stay current with Pastor Keith’s sermon series so I don’t feel like I missed out when I return to home.
It dawned on me in that taxi ride in Brazil that if this podcast can bridge the gap ½ a world away, it can certainly do the same for any home-bound members we have or even regular attendees who were at church but want to re-hear Keith’s message (in case you weren’t paying attention…tsk, tsk).
The podcast is also a clear audio beacon and outreach of the open and affirming message of our church as delivered from the pulpit to anyone near or far from St. John, just waiting to be stumbled upon by spiritual wanderers in cyberspace. It is my hope that others of you will avail yourselves to this podcast and spread the word to friends and family, near and far.
But even if I’m the only subscriber, I will cling to it like it was a life-line to home……because it is.