Russia Day 1 – ‘The world smiles at you’

One flies the 4,811 miles to Russia at approximately 525 miles per hour.

When the team from the Baltimore-Washington and Virginia annual conferences traveled to Moscow, a little boy seated close to them spoke up.

“That’s Russia? It looks just like America,” he said. And from the air it did – an earthen patchwork of a thousand shades of green and patterns made out of roads and houses.  At cloud-level there was little difference between the two lands. Except that United Methodists tend to travel to Russia with a sense of hope and possibility.

It’s a shared hope, but it’s also something that stirs within the souls of individual travelers. This sense of travel as a soul-stirring adventure was included in the prayer that the group lifted up before their journey. It’s from 1577 and is  attributed to Sir Francis Drake. It read, in part:

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore. …

Disturb us Lord, to dare more boldly
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will shore your mastery,
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask you to push back the horizon of our hopes
And to push us into the future
In strength, courage , hope and love. Amen.

 Flying on Aeroflot, the airline of Russia, visitors debark to a sign that plays on a screen above their head. It reads simply: “The world smiles to you.”  That, too, feels like a prayer.

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