Spirituality Abroad: One Man’s Journey

Today’s guest blog is by John Doherty. John had contacted me after reading Melibee and asked if he could submit a post for review. We spoke a bit about the angle that he could use to share his experience abroad. I really liked where he went with this piece, which expresses how his exploration of his spirituality inspired him to venture abroad.

Chalet Les Melezes, the original L’Abri Fellowship chalet in Switzerland. © John Doherty Photography

Traveling for the purpose of spiritual enlightenment is a long-established rite of passage for many young people. During the height of the hippie movement in the 1960s and 1970s, young American travelers often voyaged East through Europe to India and other countries, seeking spiritual enlightenment and answers to their questions. Often their search included using illicit drugs and experimenting in unique ways, but all had one attribute in common – they were seeking their “truth.” They wanted to, as Henry David Thoreau once said (and the Dead Poets Society repeated), “suck the marrow out of life.”

This is reason why the community in Switzerland where I lived was founded, to provide, as they said, “honest answers to honest questions.” The ethos was, and still is, that there are no bad questions when it comes to seeking truth. The founders, Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer and his wife Edith, believed that the Bible is true and speaks to all of life. They decided to open their home to travelers, to come and stay and ask questions and live life in the Alps. Over time, more and more people flocked to the community, including my father in the mid-1970s, to ask question of this Christian “guru”, as he was known. Schaeffer wore Swiss knickers, had a long white goatee, and a sharp mind, ready to answer and dialogue with the questions asked of him.

This is just one example of a place where travelers and so-called “seekers” ended up. I met a land developer, a British man, who traveled through the Far East, specifically China, India, and Indonesia in the 1970s, visiting mosques and Hindu temples, asking questions and searching for enlightenment. He has since started a successful land development company, first in the UK and now in Switzerland. He continues to question and seek, engaging in conversation with myself and other students from L’Abri.

Others have come directly through the community. Dreadlocked hippies, straight-laced pastor’s kids, others experimenting with drugs –  all were traveling to find themselves, to ask questions about life, to try to make some sense out of this crazy world in which we all find ourselves.

St. Peter's Cathedral, Rome, Italy © John Doherty Photography

Why travel? This oft-asked question has no easy answers. Personally, I started traveling to find myself. Along the way I’ve seen incredible world sites, met some captivatingly interesting people, and expanded my view of the world and what is possible.

I encourage you to do the same. As you travel, meet the locals. Meet your fellow voyagers.  I read about a man called Nomadic Matt on CNN, who said “travel makes you confront the fears you do not want to confront.” So I have to ask you: “Are you ready to take that step, to confront those fears, to take a chance at enjoying a fuller life?”

Stop reading this. Go travel! And share your experiences with all of us so we can continue through this journey called life together.

Guest Blogger, John Doherty

About the Author: John Doherty writes for an online college website. He helps people find online degrees from accredited colleges during the day. During his free time, he shoots lifestyle photography , writes, and works on entrepreneurial projects. He can be found on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/dohertyjf.