Tomorrow night (Wednesday, July 14) a bunch of us will gather at a local eatery to enjoy some fellowship and an American meal before heading off to Honduras for a week. There we will stay at an agricultural College that serves very nutritious meals that is totally safe for soft American stomachs to eat. But they won't be American meals. They will feature corn tortillas, black refried beans, rice, fried bananas, and baby cheese, all made at the college on their experimental farm. One breakfast will be pancakes, American pancakes—with honey instead of syrup. Whereas I especially love the fried bananas, the grease does tend to make me into difficult company. Now, I grew up overseas, and strange foods bear a funny sort of Zimmeresque attraction to me, day in and day out I want something I know.
On the other hand, if I really didn't want surprises I wouldn't go to Honduras for a week. During this time I'll sleep in a strange bed, talk to people I've never met, try to help in a field I'm not trained in (medical,) solve problems I've never confronted, and talk to people about things I know very little about. And I come back exhilarated and exhausted at the same time, a good kind of tired that leaves you breathless with new vision.
So then, isn't that exactly the point at issue? We all want something we know. Having what we understand, what we expect, what we're used to, makes us feel comfortable, in control and powerful. But isn't it exactly what we don't understand, what we least expect, and what makes us uncomfortable exactly what makes us stretch and grow, sometimes in very rewarding ways? Surprises have the potential of opening the doors of our souls and letting them out for a barefoot walk in the park. The unexpected can (doesn't always, but can) show us not only chinks in our armor, but cracks through which new growth reaches for the sun.
So I'll go for my American meal, and probably eat another when I get home. I'll do so for the fellowship as much as the food. But in between, like the most interesting man in the world, I say, "stay thirsty, my friends," thirsty for whatever will enrich the world.