Staying Connected through (Un)ending Travel

Lately, it seems like there’s always a trip or two in the works, and another that I’ve just finished up. I recently counted up my travel with InterVarsity over the past year, and this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. July 1-14 – Chapter Planting Cohort training in Madison, followed up with visits to ministry partners and family in Iowa and Ohio.
  2. October 2-4 – Fall Conference #1 – Big Bay, MI
  3. October 19-20 – UP Team Spiritual Retreat – Little Lake, MI
  4. October 30-November 1 – Fall Conference #2 – Wisconsin Dells, WI
  5. December 7-10 – Regional Staff Conference – Green Lake, WI
  6. December 26-January 1 – Urbana – St. Louis, MO
  7. March 15-17 – Bible Speaker Training – Grand Rapids, MI
  8. March 20-22 – Campus Visits to LSSU and NMU – Sault Ste. Marie and Marquette, MI
  9. April 14-22 – Visiting ministry partners in the Twin Cities and the Chapter Planters Retreat – San Diego, CA
  10. April 30-May 13 – Chapter Focus Week – Cedarville, MI
  11. June 5-9 – Regional Staff Conference – River Falls, WI

Adding in a couple of trips visiting family, I’ve spent over two months away from home this year. Yikes! I enjoy traveling, but looking ahead to the coming year, I am grateful to have more stability and less travel.

I think it’s hard for most people to maintain good habits when life is anything but constant, and I’m no exception. Even when traveling for InterVarsity – leading Bible studies and teaching students – the activity and change of routine can destabilize me spiritually, especially when I’m going from 8am to midnight. But one practice that I’ve found to ground me during times of travel has been the prayers of the hours, a spiritual discipline that dates back to ancient Judaism, and has been adapted by many Christian traditions throughout the world.

I use the pocket edition of the book The Divine Hours, which has one week of prayers, seven for each day (Dawn, Morning, Midday, etc.). When I travel, I will usually pray the dawn or morning prayers before breakfast, and the compline before going to sleep. It brings a stability and peace to my day, keeping my focus on the Lord.

I clearly remember returning exhausted to my cabin late one night at Chapter Focus Week last year, having had an emotional time of sharing in our chapter around the campfire. While still exhausted, I felt restored and grounded by God while praying the compline.

I don’t always use it while at home, but I have found that it is one practice that has been extremely valuable for my spiritual life while on the road. What helps you stay grounded spiritually while traveling?

If you’re interested in trying out prayer of the hours, the current Divine Hours office is available online. And I’m sure there are apps, but I haven’t searched for them yet (I still prefer a paper book for this!).


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