"Do not take a purse or bag or sandals..."
Reflection by Lillian Daniel
After a great vacation at the beach, packing to come home is not nearly as much fun as packing before the trip. Before the trip, I spend days anticipating the vacation. Will it be cold enough for a sweater? Or so hot that I need to bring more shorts? Should I bring my own sunscreen and risk it popping open in my suitcase? Or should I wait and pay twice as much for it at the beach store? These are not the deepest questions of life, but they are part of the delight in looking ahead.
Packing to return home is more an exercise in confession and repentance. I am always amazed that even with all that planning, I never seem to have brought the right things. I find myself making a note to keep a list for next year, reminding me of all my past packing mistakes. Inevitably, there is always a bunch of stuff I never touched during the vacation, things that I could have easily left at home.
And then the greatest repacking mystery of all – why can't I fit my repacked clothes into the suitcase I brought them all in? Did they expand and multiply somehow? Did my suitcase shrink?
When we realize we have too much stuff on a week-long vacation, just imagine how much extra stuff we have in our own lives back at home. I think part of the freedom of a vacation is that we are released from our stuff. That convicts me, when I think of how many people in the world do not have what they need to live.
Perhaps packing and repacking can be moments of theological reflection. What do we really need and why? What should we leave at home, but don't? What do we bring that works?
I can't answer these questions for another person. I can only consider them myself, and wonder how I stack up to the disciples Jesus sent out with almost nothing. Did I really need four pairs of shoes for seven days spent mostly barefoot? I don't think so.
Generous God, make us grateful for all we have, aware of what we need and willing to give away what we do not. Amen.
(And if you want to be inspired in your efforts, check out "The Story of Stuff.")