1. The journey must not be part of a regular commute.
2. The journey must be taken alone and should involve some form of personal reflection.
3. The journey must include at least two good books from diverse genres, alongside your Bible.
4. The journey must not become ‘functional’. The inexcusable habit of catching-up on essential work en route will not be tolerated – only ‘non-essential’ activities are permitted.
5. The journey must be entirely disconnected from any lurking semblance of internet. If at all possible you should pretend you are on a nineteenth-century steam train, ignoring all Satanic “free wifi” signs which threaten to scupper your temporary escape from contemporaneity.
So, these are the primary canonical conditions conducive to theological travel writing. I say ‘theological’, of course, because such journeys often involve (or ought to involve) a deeper sense of insight upon the world as God’s world, and upon the Word he has revealed, and the life he has given you – all of which ultimately leads to worship. I often find God speaks to me afresh or reminds me of what is most important when I look out of a window, read a book in a new city (or, simply, have an excuse to read a book that has been left unread for far too long), even if I happen to be travelling for some other ‘essential’ purpose. We won’t always be able to fit such moments into our lives, but it remains true that some of our most reflective and insightful times often occur when we’re away, and for this reason we must wage war with our schedules to make space for and cherish such journeys, and never letting them pass us by when they present themselves to us.
The next few articles in this mini-series will recount such reflections from my most recent dose of mere travel, as I visited Oxford for the first time in mid-August. Inevitably, not everyone cares about what you care about when you go away, and a great deal of our travelogical reflections need never emerge from the hopelessly subjective caves of our minds; but for what they’re worth, I will attempt to bring a few of the ‘souvenirs’ out of the cave so that others might see some of what I brought home with me on the most recent voyage.