Safely home. That is the normal response returning home from a trip.
On the road, away from the familiar and anticipated, there is always the possibility of unexpected events.
When one is safely home, those unexpected events, the unknowns of travelling, are left behind.
I understand this and how my family feels to see me walk through the doorway on the arrivals level of the airport.
But safely home means other possibilities have also been left behind. The unexpected, the unanticipated, may leave us wanting more.
To be safely home can then be as much an expression of regret as of relief.
These are odd words, you may think, with which to follow a month of silence in this space.
After a frenzy of preparation, the possibility of travelling to Kenya to participate in the 14th Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum and the 27th Session of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) became a reality.
It was also the first universal session of UNEP, whose membership was just expanded two months ago to every member state in the UN as an outcome of the Rio+20 meetings.
As first alternate regional representative for the North American region of UNEP, I had no right to attend. But the possibility emerged to seek one-time accreditation through the United Church of Canada, and to ask for financial support from Red River College, as an expression of its corporate social responsibility in the area of sustainability.
In one week, I went from the idea to airline tickets, and less than three weeks later I got off a plane in Nairobi.
It has been an extraordinary time, because of the possibilities that greeted me every moment of the day. I wrote in Gift Ecology that we live in a universe of relations, not an environment of connections, and I experienced the power of this idea at every turn.
I became more than friends with people from all over the world in ways that will change all of our lives, if they have not already been changed by the encounter.
Those moments of Presence – there can be no better word to describe what took place – will remain between us, as they should, but why they occurred and with whom remains a mystery.
Others may call it chance, the expression of a serendipitous universe we use to depict what we don’t understand.
To live in a universe, not only of relations but of Possibility, is to find new roads to travel, new companions for the journey, and to feel the richness and intensity of life all around us.
We need a passion for the planet, if we, as humans, want to continue in partnership – in relation – with the Earth.
It is our passion, after all, that marks us as human, not our abilities.