Traveling is such an ascetic experience, especially when it involves public transportation. So much is beyond your control and you can either resist it or submit to it. You can hardly break it, but if you are lucky it can break you. And yes, being broken is a blessing.

If you read my blog regularly you know that any reference to luck is always tongue in cheek because I don’t believe in luck. I believe that there are very few accidents and that everything happens for a purpose and that very many times the unfortunate things that happen carry the blessing of being broken.

When you travel you are at the mercy of others, and there is so much that is beyond your control. My flight last week to Baltimore for the Retirement Advisor Council was a comedy of errors. Delta must have the worst on-time record in the business. EVERY flight was delayed. Several were cancelled. I’m not exaggerating. They even took my seat on the connection out of Atlanta and put me on a flight into Washington Reagan (rather than Baltimore Washington). If you’re headed downtown Baltimore it’s not even remotely convenient to fly into Reagan. And once I finally arrived at the Hyatt in Baltimore they had overbooked the hotel (I thought that was an airline trick) and I actually slept on a pullout couch my first night there.

But the real fun started Wednesday night when my flight from Baltimore to New York City was completely cancelled. They hinted at it being weather related (as I assume there is no culpability for acts of God) but the weather in Baltimore was great and the weather in New York was great (I know because a colleague traveling with me had a daughter playing in a softball tournament in New York at that very hour). The offer from Delta was to rebook our flight the next day, meaning I would miss my meetings there in New York. So we rented a car and drove 3 ½ hours to the Big Apple where every hundred yards on the New Jersey Turnpike is a toll booth and it will cost you your first born to cross any bridges or go through any tunnels.

But the act of God wasn’t the weather at all, it was the breaking of a control freak (yours truly). The great spiritual disciplines in life are what we might call interruptions, things that force us to realize that there is a God and we’re not Him. Things like marriage or having kids. And if your heart needs further adjustments and you’re still a control freak after all that, try flying to the northeast on Delta in the summer.

The entire time I just kept thinking of the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” They say that with age comes wisdom, and perhaps I’m an especially slow learner, but I’m beginning to realize that there is way more that falls into that first category than fall into the second. Ascetic means “strict self-denial as a measure of personal and especially spiritual discipline.” And once I accepted my travel as an ascetic journey it actually became a blessing. It was actually fun. Driving to NYC that night was an adventure, not laborious. And when I tried to fly back to Kansas City late Friday night and they told me my flight was delayed I smiled and said, “Of course it is” and looked for the most comfortable seat at LaGuardia in which to spend the night.

I did finally get home Friday night, so I guess God decided I’d been broken enough for one week.