I'm grateful for the opportunity to spend this past week in Seattle, Washington for a conference. I'd never been to the state of Washington. Nor had I ever been so far west. I always enjoy adding "firsts" to my collection of lifetime adventures.
Even more than enjoyment, though, these adventures often bring eye-opening reminders that the world is much bigger, and in many ways more beautiful and complex than I personally spend a lot of time thinking about. I live in a small town. In fact, I've spent most of my life in places that have fewer people than you routinely find in any of the 500 or so Starbucks coffee shops in downtown Seattle. So in some ways, it's very intimidating to venture into Seattle's mazes of skyscrapers and football field long electric busses criss-crossing in front of each other - and pedestrians - with reckless abandon. In other ways, though, it's a beautiful reminder just how little I am, how little I truly understand about my fellow countrymen and beyond.
I say beautiful because when I get to living in one place for too long, whether it's a big or small place, and I don't get opportunities to get out and see different parts of the world, I can begin to imagine myself bigger than I really am. I can begin to hope for a direction in this big world that leads to my own comfort, convenience, and preservation. The less I know about other people in this world, the more I confine my images of the world to the walks I take through my own neighborhoods or my 20 minute commute to work. It becomes very easy to reduce the size and the joys and hardships of the world to their impact on my own life.
I've seen a lot in my short visit to Seattle. I've seen that God's creation really is infinite. There are so many beautiful scenes to take in that we'll literally need eternity to see them all. I've seen there are no limits to the heights man's handiwork can climb. But I've also seen the bigger the buildings and the busier the streets, the easier it is to hide some of God's neediest people. It's easier to think about the world in terms of what's best for me when I don't have to see them shivering and starving between sky rises I never knew existed. It's easier to make policies to keep people out when I have no idea the kind of life they've been living that has them begging to get in.
So thank you Seattle. Thank you for the coffee, the heights, and the energy. And thank you for the reminder that mine is not the only story written into today.