I love to travel. I love to see new sights and learn new things. If you ask me the place I would most like to visit, I would have a difficult time giving you an answer. Even narrowing down all the places in the world (or even just the US) to a top ten travel list is hard as I find pretty much any place fascinating on some level. I am inherently curious and that can make any place interesting and worthy of a visit.

Eric and I recently returned home from a trip to Iceland. I’ll admit, Iceland was not on my radar in terms of travel destinations, but it was a place my mom had wanted to visit for some time. And since she was offering to buy the plane tickets (“It’s your inheritance I’m spending anyway”) how could we say no? So off we went, my husband, brother, mother, and I, for a week-long journey around the ring road of Iceland. And while pictures will not do the landscape justice, a small sample of the 1,842 pictures Eric took over the course of the week are available for online viewing.  It is like no place else I have been.

As we travel, we periodically like to ask one other what has been our favorite thing so far. On some trips, there is general consensus among us as to the best thing. On others, each of seems to gravitate to something different. Whatever it is, it is almost certainly something outside the experiences we ourselves have at home.

At one stop, an Icelander was very excited to tell us about this forest nearby. Part way through her description she stopped, remembering we are from the U.S. and that we “have much more impressive forests in comparison.” On the other hand, she thought our fascination with the large expansive lava fields was silly. “What is there to see?”

Summer is the season of travel for many, and just as we leave our homes to visit strange lands, strangers will come to our homes and see our same old same old as new and different. Let that tourist with their camera remind us to notice and appreciate the things and places and people we see and experience every day. From family life to work to church, there is much in our own backyards that is worthy of our time and attention if we will simply look again with fresh eyes and open hearts. There really is no place like home.

by Sheryl Johnson, Interim Minister of Christian Education & Spiritual Formation