Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I. Why Going on Tour is like Dying

An ordinary tour involves 1 hour of packing. The days, weeks and hours of preparation before it are not work for the actual departure; they are ending the life that came before it. Thank-you letters for a tour gone by, laundry that has sat in the hamper, papers to file, canceling the dance lessons, changing the automated voice mail. One's estate must be in order.

Of course, this is no ordinary tour. The packing which, after 2 ½ decades of touring we can now do in our sleep, has spread into weeks of consultations, web-reading and advice-seeking for this tour to India. The leaving has taken on epic proportions and the more intensely each family member feels the anxiety of flying off to a country as distant and different as this one the less able they are to pick up the vacuum and clean the living room.

I have had To-Do lists that covered 3 columns of a page every day for a week. When I have caught a family member taking a moment to read a bit of a book or visit their iPod, I have given them a glare that should have wilted a house plant - futile. I have handed over power of attorney to my administrator, thought of every possible ending or delay, scanned every song I could find to bring with me as digital file.

The preparation for the voyage itself has been over a year. When Jim and Jean Strathdee came back from the Christian Medical College of Vellore a few years ago, with photos, stories and a clearly enriched sense of the bridge-building power of music, I said to myself: "That is us next time." When it felt like our children were at an age that was right for a trip of this proportion, I began to write – as I always do with tours – to invite people to invite us to come and sing with them. The CMC of Vellore (Tamil Nadu) and its sister institution in Ludhiana (Punjab) said, "Come".

On our last day at home, it became obvious that David's and my visas were not going to arrive in time. "In Process" we were told. The children's had come – within a hair's breadth of our departure. I had been so clear that we were meant to go on this journey that I remained unstressed right up until the moment I realized those visas were truly not coming. Is this spiritual maturity or stupidity?

David and I did not sleep the eve of our morning departure. Having spent the afternoon probing the visa question, we were behind in our packing. Patrick did not sleep either – but that is usual for our 16-year-old. We awoke Nicole and Isaac at 3:45am, sleeping in their travel clothes, and drove through the frozen night – without a clear sense of our ultimate destination. "Enjoy the last empty, orderly highway for 2 months," I murmured to the kids. To myself I added: "Enjoy your last calm intestines".

The drive to the airport is as long as the flight to Vancouver, and although I usually consider it my job to keep David on the road by discussing renovations or the relationship, I could not keep my head on top of my neck. So great was his own fatigue that David actually considered doing the unthinkable: asking me to drive. All I could do was pray for protection from the ditches.

Incredibly, we have friends who have invited us to call for help at wee hours. Among them are Lorraine and Michael, who zipped up to the curb in 2 cars, breakfast sandwiches in hand for each of us, motoring us down to the consulate, where we hoped to pick up finished visas in time to get onto our flight to Delhi.

No such luck. Our visas - work-related – were problematic, and had been referred to Delhi. It would take a few days.

There are 2 ways to see an obstacle to travel. One is to wish that the journey would hurry up and begin. The other is to say: THIS is the journey. Whatever is happening now is part of the learning, part of the promise, part of the preparation for what comes next. This kind of sitting, waiting, taking action but not insisting, reminds me of the days before the birth of my children – each of them later than their due-date. It is like the days we spent sitting quietly in David's dad's hospital room at the end of his life. It is prayer, really – the time of breathing, hoping, being forthright and aware, respectful and not enraged. It is surely practice for time in India.

I watch the calendar dates on which we were to have arrived, got settled in to the country, taken the train to Ludhiana and begun our music work, come and go. Even so, I am aware that the outrageous generosity of our hosts and friends in this waiting-room time, the little bit of extra shopping and the advice-sharing dinners and the surprising gentleness that has fallen over the family, these are all gifts that are likely critical in this new stage of our lives - to our journey into this old territory of faith.

As the children said at St Andrew's-Wesley United during theme time in Sunday's service, "You get what you get and you don't get upset." May it be so.


Linnea and David seek your prayers and financial support on their journey of musical blessings. We invite you to visit our web Home Page and hit the Donate button. (Guess we should have a Pray button, too!) Many thanks!


  1. I think a "PRAYING" button is a fantastic idea! Here on the blog page, maybe!

  2. Best wishes.... on the journey. Wendy

  3. Looking forward to hear about your family's sojourn in India. Hope to see the images of beauty you encounter as well. May you find beauty around you as you share your ministry with folks you embrace with your beauty. Peace. R

  4. Oh my gosh this is so exciting. I loved reading this. I know you are now there and I wish you all well!!