November 14, 2013
Julie G. Olmsted
"Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic." - Luke 9:3
When my children were small, every summer we loaded up the family station wagon, setting out to see Granny in the Missouri Ozarks. Flying was too expensive for four of us, and driving was a fine way to spend time together and create memories. Like any all-American family, we loaded up good: clothing changes, water bottles, snacks, even (in the beginning) a small new toy every 200 miles for being "good."
Where would we all be without our "stuff?" George Carlin endeared himself to thousands with his commentary on the American accumulation addiction: "We had to get a bigger house to put our stuff in; now we pay rent on a little house called ‘storage’ to keep the stuff overflow . . . ."
The material stuff we haul and store is nothing compared to the stuff we carry in our hearts and minds: painful (as well as "precious") memories, resentments, judgments about ourselves and others. Then there are the fixed limitations about what we are capable of and what’s possible for our own lives and the world around us.
It is so easy to be jaded, on every level of life. All we need do is turn on the computer or the television. Instead of enlightening us, this habit can render us closed to new views and vistas. We become guilty of staring down instead of looking up. We become "heavy-laden."
This is the purpose of traveling light. This is God’s instruction to not only whittle down our material stuff, but to let go of what keeps us from hearing and seeing God say and do something new, something fresh, something breathtaking. This is the purpose of meditation, relaxation and oh, yes, something really radical: forgiveness.
Help me to travel light, in every area of my life. Especially help me to unclutter my mind, so that I may hear you and see more clearly your mighty hand on my life. Amen.
About the Author
Julie Olmsted is an ordained United Church of Christ minister, currently in the call process.
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