Standing at the top of Nerudova Street, peering down at the rain-soaked cobblestones and pastel storefronts as the street lights danced like a watercolor painting come to life, I never felt more certain that travel and faith were the most perfect of companions. It was March of 2017, and I was experiencing one of the most difficult times of my life. After six years of fighting to bring home our family’s fourth daughter through adoption from Vietnam, it had finally happened.
She had been with us for three months then, and by everyone’s standards, I should have been experiencing the most glorious and celebrative time thus far. It was truly a miracle that she was finally there to make our family complete, and I was very much aware and happy, but the years of stress and struggle to get me to that day had taken their toll. Emotionally and spiritually, I was in a very bad place. I needed to regroup. I needed to care for myself and find the space to take long deep breaths and endless wandering walks. I needed to re-center. This is how I ended up in Prague on my first solo adventure to Europe.
I found myself on that rain-soaked, most perfect street out of pure intuition … and with fingers crossed in hope of rescue. Following a series of unlikely conversations and memories, I had woken up in the middle of a dark February night with a very clear understanding that I needed Prague. Prague would somehow save me. So I bought tickets immediately, and set off toward something for which I felt my heart longed. What I found was way more than I ever expected.
Now I know this may sound quite strange. How can a city save someone? And if a city really does have that miraculous ability, wouldn’t the more likely location be Jerusalem or Mecca—or on historically faith-filled pilgrimages that pass through cities along the Camino de Santiago in Spain or the Pilgrim’s Way in England? Could it be that profound faith experiences might actually happen in the most unlikely places, too? Might they even occur in the most faithless cities in the world? Come to find out, if you open your eyes and heart to what is deep within, Faith happily reminds over and over again that you can never travel a single step in which she’s not right there, wrapped up in the middle of the journey.
As I explored the medieval streets of Prague, I was somehow healed. No, the healing didn’t happen in a miraculous moment. Instead, it happened over days as the rhythm of the city, the dancing of the lights, and the silent songs that poured out of cracks in her streets slowly brought me back to my senses. As I marveled at my views at every turn, took time to smell the cinnamon and gingerbread and hot wine filling the streets, tasted dishes that had never before touched my tongue, and felt the warmth of my room wrap around me each night as I cried into my pillow, I met myself again. I met my faith (Jesus) again.
I have traveled to many European cities since that cold week in March. Each has its own magic, as every traveler knows. But it turns out that every single city also has a way of transforming me just a little bit more. Now I bring small groups of women on journeys of a lifetime, but I never serve as the guide. The one requirement of traveling with Big Story Living is the commitment to letting Jesus (or your faith deep within) be your guide. Though we travel as a group, we often spend the majority of our days exploring solo. We move into each morning with intention. We minimize our phone usage. We turn off the maps app often and simply listen for the prompts to turn left or turn right that come from being connected with our faith.
It might sound a little “woo-woo,” but we expect to be surprised, comforted, and blown away … and it always happens. Our journeys turn out to be the most freeing, stimulating, slow-paced, meaningful days of our lives as we walk our very own “Camino de Paris” or “Camino do Prague” or “Camino de Copenhagen.” It’s about a little mind shift that makes all the difference. We, together, believe that like Prague, our faith is ready to meet us at any moment, in any city that our bucket list leads. All we have to do is slow the pace and intention enough to notice, connect, savor the wonder and joy of every city, and be healed by our perfect travel companion … Faith.
Amy Colón is the creator of Big Story Living, a heart project that focuses on making world travel affordable while inspiring wonder and faith as partners in the journey. Reach her by email.
Top image: ©den781/Adobe Stock