Dr. Mike Graves, Scholar in Residence

If you’re sick and tired of hearing about our recent trip to Israel, my apologies. Ask anyone who went (and who is now over the jet lag and weather-related rerouting) and they will tell you what an amazing adventure it was. Walking in the footsteps of Jesus is quite simply a great gift. Traveling to a different country is always a good cure for fear of the stranger, and the Holy Land is no exception. Learning about the tensions between Jews and Palestinians ensures that the trip is not just about the past. God’s concern for justice continues even today.

One of the many wonderful aspects of my ministry here is leading such trips. So I thought that in addition to basking one last time in the most recent one, I might tell you about some upcoming opportunities. Some of these have been publicized, others not so much at this point. In the summer of 2020, Carla Aday and I will lead a trip to Scotland, what I nicknamed “The Courses and Cathedrals” tour. We will depart on June 30 and return July 9 (except for those staying on to play some Scottish golf). The main reason for going is to embrace our Protestant heritage since Scotland played an important role in the Reformation overall and Disciples history as well. But it won’t be all lectures and no fun. We will visit churches, sure, but museums and art galleries, and lots of cultural sites, including a cruise on Loch Lomond. And did I mention golf? If you’re interested in going, there’s still time since the deposit is not due until July 29.

The summer after that, we are going to Italy for a “Bible and Art Tour,” or what I’ve jokingly referred to as the “Bible, Art, Gelato, Wine, and Pasta Tour.” Some of you know that from time to time, I lead a Bible and art tour here at the Nelson with one of their docents, Donna Houtteman. She and I, along with Carla, will be touring art museums in Rome and Florence. This is tentatively scheduled for May 24-June 3, 2021. In addition to guided visits in the museums, there will be lots of free time for day trips and other fun activities on your own. It’s something of an understatement that this is going to be an amazing trip.

In the summer of 2022, besides a return trip to Israel for those who missed out, Carla will lead a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago (aka, “The Way of Saint James”). This ancient walk has become quite popular in recent years, a time of meditation and contemplation. The original route covers 500 miles and can take 35 days or more. But there are shorter, more doable segments, like the Camino Frances that we will take. This is a way to disconnect from the hectic pace of our lives and reconnect with God and others on the journey. We don’t have dates for either of the 2022 trips, so stay tuned.

Travel truly can be a path to spiritual formation. Hope one or more of these fits into your plans.