Traveling is most commonly understood as going from one physical place to another. Travel can entail trains, planes, boats, cars and even bikes depending on the situation.
Sometimes, the most significant forms of traveling can take place without actually having to move at all.
I’ve noticed that internal travel – the journeys that take place within your soul – are not as highly regarded or spoken about nearly as often as actually taking a trip.
Falling in love, experiencing heartbreak, overcoming addiction, battling mental illness…all of these prompt forms of travel that take place within yourself.
The kinds of trips that you can’t buy a ticket straight to your end destination are the most important.
This past week, the internal traveling I have been doing came to a head. This time last year, I was falling in love for the first time. Both with the person I was in a relationship with, and with God.
The latter love took root inside me and stayed with me even after the first love shed its leaves for a perpetual winter.
I experienced euphoric highs and traumatic lows last year, but just like physical travel, I knew these were essential to getting to my destination.
I began a process called RCIA in September of last year, which stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. I went to church sessions every Tuesday night to explore my faith and make decisions on what kind of Catholic I wanted to be, and attended mass each Sunday, with a dismissal after the homily to break open the word.
The process was intense, challenging, and ultimately has been the most rewarding journey I’ve ever embarked on.
In order for me to develop a personal relationship with Christ, I had to hike the most daunting unmarked trails within myself.
I had to learn to lean on God, to ask for help. To pray and allow myself to hear His word – even when I knew I wasn’t going to like it. After making decisions based solely on what I wanted to do for the majority of my life, I had to trust in God and ask Him to weigh in to avoid stumbling down a path that wasn’t intended for me.
I turned around completely blind corners and called on my faith to prevent me from being scared of what may lie around the bend.
I had to search for His light when darkness was blinding me.
I have walked millions of miles within myself to reach a point with God where His steadfast love is never a question in my mind, and kneeling in prayer feels like coming home.
Last Saturday, I was baptized, confirmed and received my first communion in the Catholic church. I spent the week leading up to it attending mass on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and spending an enormous amount of time in prayer.
I wept on Holy Thursday as an elderly woman knelt down to wash my feet with care. I wept on Good Friday when I approached the large cross on the altar, falling to my knees to place my head on the wood in adoration for a God so in love with us that he stripped himself of his glory to walk through life with us as a human person, as Jesus Christ.
On Holy Saturday, in preparation for my baptism, I spent the day fasting from both food and my phone, practicing yoga, and praying the rosary.
In that day alone, I must have circled the earth twice with the amount of travel I did within myself.
When it came time for me to meet with God at the water, all feelings of anticipation, anxiety, questioning…all of it dissipated.
The hundreds of people in the church, the feeling of the water against my fully clothed body and even the hands of Father as he lowered me into the water were all nonexistent.
As I was baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy spirit, I was no longer a human in a body, but a soul in God’s loving embrace.
Those few moments in the water were pure euphoria, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It is impossible to accurately describe – it was a feeling so powerful I could never forget it even if I wanted to.
As I went on to accept the body and blood of Christ, I realized that although I had gained the ability to recognize the light of Christ within me, I had not reached my destination.
And I hope that I never will.