PILGRIM NOTES: Mission / 17.01.13

“Taste and see…” -Psalm 34:8

To the ancient Hebrews, creation was a table spread with many delights. We were honored guests, invited by the Creator to partake–to taste and see. Growing up, my family highly valued eating together. This may have owed in part to my father’s delight in watching his kids eat. “Et now! Et now!” he would say happily in his fake accent as he shoveled bacon onto our plates next to steaming stacks of buckwheat buttermilk pancakes, soaking up the butter melting into fresh maple syrup.

And the more we loved it, the more he loved it. He was positively tickled to see us enjoying something he created. Though he usually restrained himself, we could hear him asking behind every offering of food,
“Isn’t it good?!”
“Do you like it?!”
“Do you want some more?!”

Take that image and bring it to where we are today, on a hot afternoon in south India, resting under a shade tree.

After we have rolled out our tarp on the ground and Kallie is about ready to doze off, a middle class Indian man comes up and says “Hi,” expectantly. I have just begun writing in my journal and I know Kallie wants to sleep, so I am slow to respond and without much enthusiasm. He begins with the usual questions:
“Where are you from?”
“What are you doing?”
I tell him we are from the USA and are cycling Europe and India for five months. Then he asks me a question that draws me in: “What is your mission?”

At first I gauge what kind of answer I should give, and pause long enough for him to add: “…or no mission, just cycling?” I think about our website’s three part mission statement, and reply, “Yes, we have a mission — we have many missions! First, we want to see the world first-hand — not just hear about it, but to see it, feel it… Next, we are riding without petroleum. We see that petrol in our country causes problems–pollution, war–so we are riding great distances without needing petrol…” At this point he cuts me off and says, “Okay, thank you.”

I see him get into his luxury van and feel a prejudice hardening. I am miffed at being interrupted. “Why ask questions if you don’t want to hear the answer?” I think. But then another thought stops me:
“Andrew, what is your mission?”
I have to admit that although I am on board with petroleum reduction, it’s not the driving force of my cycle travel. Actually, that’s our group’s mission, not my mission. This man’s premature and nervous exit from our conversation had brought me to search out a new expression of what I hope to do by traveling. So what was my mission?

I looked at the journal entry I’d begun writing at breakfast. “Taste and See” was the heading. An excerpt from the Psalmist’s verse, “Taste and see that the LORD is good!”

Remember my father at breakfast, eagerly loading our plates with good food–good food he could hardly stand for us not to enjoy? Maybe there’s a part of God that’s just like that! Maybe God has invited us to this many-splendored array of mountains, oceans, forests, fields, fruits, vegetables, animals, and people–with all their colors and quirks! And all he wants with all his heart is for us to enjoy it as much as he does.

That’s what I want my mission to be. I want to take the psalmist’s exhortation seriously when he writes, “Taste and see that the LORD is good!”

If the whole earth is full of the steadfast love of God…
If something of the Creator can be known by knowing the creation…
And if creation is a banquet table, spread for us by a loving Creator…
Then I don’t want to just stay put where I can only reach the peas and potatoes. I want to dip my finger in the various puddings; I want to sample the bright yellow jak fruit, the green and pink guavas, the orange and red spicy curries, the fresh bread that crackles and steams when you break it open, the homemade apricot jam and Bree cheese that tastes like butter, and the surprisingly complex and rich depth of a good glass of Cabernet. I want to gaze out across the Himalayas of Asia and smell the Alpine forests of Europe–to see foxes running through harvested grain fields and watch gannets diving into the coastal ocean for fish. I want to fill up all over this grand table and be able to say, “Wow–you did all of this?!” and “Yes, it is good. You are good!”

I want my mission to be this:

There’s so much to see! So much to taste! So much reflected of the divine beauty all around this marvelous planet! How does G. Manley Hopkins put it? “Christ plays in ten thousand places…”

Of course there’s a problem with this mission, because I don’t always enjoy traveling, or the people I meet. Sometimes the places aren’t lovely, and often I encounter pain and evil. And what about those who have no opportunity to travel?

But first things first, “taste and see…” — wherever you are, with whatever you’ve been given.

That’s why I’m here. That’s why Kallie and I are traveling the world by bicycle. That is my forming mission. I want to taste, and see, and rejoice in all the incomprehensible complexity that makes up the Creator’s heart.

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  1. netzy said on January 18, 2013 at 4:03 am

    Thank you for your insights…. you are very perceptive …. love to your blogs….

  2. Guifang Lao said on January 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Hey Andrew and Kallie,

    Thank you very much for your blog.
    Stay safe and have a wonderful last trip!

    I am Lindsey’s mother. I very mcuh appreciate all your help and support Linsey when she has been traveling with your group.

    If both of you visit in DC area you are very welcome to visit me.

    Thanks and best Regards,


    • ajspidahl said on January 19, 2013 at 6:59 am

      Thanks! It was good to share the journey…

  3. peterehresmann said on January 27, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Well said Drew, well said. I like your mission!

  4. Rod said on February 2, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    . . . how about trying some raw honey on that next batch of buttermilk buckwheat pancakes, Drewster??

  5. Anders Spidahl said on February 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Your blogs have been God’s grace for me this year. Thanks Andrew and Kallie!

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