Spiritually Speaking

Question: I just recently graduated from high school and I want to travel throughout Europe with my three friends. We plan to stay at hostiles as we go. I think it will be exciting and a great way to explore Europe. My parents are whole-heartedly against the idea.

How can I convince them that I will be okay and to give their blessing for me to travel? – Wanting to Explore

Dear Explorer,

Your parents’ hesitance is likely because of the violence in the world today. I think traveling and exploring different cultures is extremely beneficial for your future; however, with your whole life ahead of you I’m not sure this is the right time. I have traveled all over the world but I have never seen the level of tension that exists right now.

Sometimes it’s a good idea to think of different ways that you could accomplish the same goal. I have a curious mind just like you. Here are a couple of options for you to consider until the violence settles down in much of the world.

First, there are many different cultures in the United States. We have a huge country that has been called the “melting pot” of the world. Often we have more people of an ethnic background living in the United States than live in the country of origin. The world has come to the United States. You could decide which cultures you’d like to explore and then travel to areas in the United States where there is a large population of that people group.

A second suggestion is to recognize the ethnic diversity in the greater Los Angeles area. The world has literally come to Los Angeles. With just a little research you can find organizations that represent these different cultures. You could attend their meetings, learn some of their language and enjoy a great deal from the different cultures. It’s possible that whatever university you choose to attend might give you college credit if you write some college level papers documenting your adventure.

Being young gives you plenty of time to follow your dreams. I believe your parents love you too much to take a chance on losing you. Please consider one of these options as a second choice for now. Good luck with all of the adventures ahead of you.

Steve Johnson, Pastor Emeritus
Highlands Church La Crescenta


Dear Wanting to Explore,

The great poet Kahill Giran writes of children: “Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.”

When my youngest son decided to buy a one-way ticket to Hawaii, couch surf and work at an organic farm, I was not on board. However, this is his life and I must trust that I raised an intelligent child who has a life path of his own.

He lived in Hawai’i for about six months and then joined AmeriCorps, followed by a year of living at a yoga retreat center. With all of the adventures, when he decided to go to college he was able to get into Berkeley. He graduated with a degree in philosophy and now is a successful financial planner.

We all have our journey! Remind your parents that they raised an intelligent being. You will keep in touch and be mindful of every move you make. Trust that all is well!


Rev. Valerie Reeves, Staff Minister
Redondo Beach Center for Spiritual Living