The Journey Home
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.”
~ Lillian Smith
“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
~ Martin Buber
The short, intense experience of an immersion learning journey can be deeply transformative, sometimes in ways we cannot anticipate. During the journey, we are bombarded by new sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. We spend many hours with our fellow travelers and with our hosts, listening to stories, absorbing new information, and sharing together in work, worship, and learning. Sometimes we are stretched way out of our comfort zones by the environment we enter, the stories we hear, some form of physical discomfort, or the whole experience. Sometimes we discover parts of ourselves that startle or even disappoint us.
When we return home again, we can find ourselves feeling disoriented. The intensity of the experience we’ve just had is juxtaposed against the familiar rhythms and patterns of our home environment. We may cycle rapidly through a whole range of emotions: from sadness, confusion, or guilt about our ability to return to a place of relative comfort, to relief, inspiration, and excitement about what we’ll do next.
Other people may not have any idea about the focus or intent of our journey, and it is disconcerting to field simple questions such as “Hey, how was your trip?” Our answers are likely to be long and complicated.
This unit is designed to help you reflect on your experience and on how you feel changed by what you have learned. The readings and reflections will support you as you integrate insights from the journey into your life at home, guide you as you learn to tell the stories of your experience, and support you as you look ahead for how you will engage the work of justice in your own community and beyond.
We encourage you to make good use of your Learning Circle within the first week or two of your return. These are the people who have accompanied you in mind and heart as you traveled. Because they have worked through this study guide with you and read some of the country-specific materials, they understand more than others the kinds of questions now arising for you. If you’ve traveled as part of a congregational group, so much the better: it’s a great gift to process the journey with others who shared the experience, and who are likely as eager as you are to put new insights into some kind of action for justice.
“Nothing of Egypt” by Dionne Brand
Revolutions do not happen outside of you,
they happen in the vein,
they change you and you change yourself,
you wake up in the morning changing.
You say this is the human being I want to be.
You are making yourself for the future,
and you do not even know the extent of it when
you begin but you have a hint,
a taste in your throat
of the warm
of the possible.
from Bread Out of Stone (Toronto: Knopf Canada, 1998).