March 7, 2014

Travelling Light—thoughts for a pack-light pilgrimage


Do you travel light?

I don’t;  though it is an ideal I have crept toward over the years. To be able to travel light shines as an ideal only because I know what it is to travel HEAVY.

When the babies were young and airlines used to let them fly free under 2 years old, I would get a hankering come spring, to visit my Grandma on the farm and introduce her to one or the other of them, whosoevers ‘turn’ it was.

What a harrowing event it can be travelling with a toddler single-handed, especially when you have no clue how to travel light.  Is there a way to do this with a baby, a baby carrier and a baby’s diaper bag all hanging from hip and shoulder on one side while you cling to your own carry-on, your purse, a blanket and that hot lunch of BBQ beef and peach pie that you grabbed but didn’t have time to finish before they called your flight to the gate…? I chuckle at the memory.  Those were the days when restrictions were lax and they didn’t keep such strict track of exactly how many items you were towing through the gate, so long as you could get to your seat.  Whew!  Just barely.

But it is occasions like this that make travelling light look so ideal!

I’m pleased to see there are tutorials available for these things.  If you’re curious, a fantastic bunch of practical information can be found at OneBag.comthe Art and Science of Travelling Light.  But regardless of how much good advice you find it will come down to a willingness to do without something—the something that you just might need, the other thing that ‘would be nice’ and the extra stuff that you wouldn’t want to be without in case…

It seems that we are determined to carry with us those things that make us feel at home, and it is precisely these things that bog us down and keep us from being fully present in the places we travel through and to. To be convinced to pack light we must first  "understand that attempts to replicate one's "familiar" lifestyle are a good way to subvert a common goal of such temporary relocations: experiencing the place and purpose of the destination."

Or put more bluntly:

Trip enjoyment is inversely proportionate to the amount of crap (distractions) you bring with you. –Tim Ferriss

I hadn’t thought of it that way.  The point is not to bring ‘home’ with me, but to temporarily suspend the need for every comfort so as to experience the present and fulfill my purpose in it.  Ahhh……….

Now, I have no intention of writing a travel blog here, but I read these things with the backdrop of last week’s post in my head---that long one I intend not to repeat this week (!)  It was about Abraham, sojourning in a foreign land, by faith in the One who has promised to give it to his descendants as their home. Abraham, traveling light, with his most precious possession--God’s promise.

Sojourning.  I like the ring of that word, such a nice way to describe a temporary stay.  And once I saw it in the life of Abraham it started popping up everywhere.

re: Abraham’s descendants: “Your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for 400 years.” Gen.15:13 (Now that was a long sojourn!)

re: Isaac:Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you.”
Gen 26:3 ESV

re: Lot, facing the scoundrels of Sodom: “And they said, ‘This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge!’” Gen 19:9 ESV

It seems we kin of Abraham are destined to be sojourners this side of Home.  We are strangers here, misfits, foreigners. Jesus said so: “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” Jn.15:19

“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1Jo 5:19)  If this is not readily apparent around you, have a peek at our forebears in the faith in Hebrews:

“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. for people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.Heb11:13

We are indeed travelling through—but are we travelling light?

I’m not thinking here of possessions.  Though, in North America, we are all rich men, like camels passing through the eye of a needle to enter the Kingdom! Impossible, but for God. Downsizing and simplifying our lives, weaning ourselves from the love of ‘stuff’ may well be in order, but that’s a subject for another site (and there are plenty of them!)

What’s come to my attention is that my life can weighed down with virtual luggage.  I haul it around as if it were essential—old habits, patterns of thinking, customary ways of facing situations…These things I’m so used to travelling with, in fact, hinder me from seeing the lay of the land and my purpose in it. 

Besides that, I get so pre-occupied with keeping track of my own bags that I miss what’s going on around me. I miss lending a hand to fellow travellers.  Have you been there?  Are you shouldering bags that were meant to be checked?  There’s Someone who’ll see them through to their destination without you having to lift a finger.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this week-- surveying the baggage I carry and asking the Lord to show me how to lighten my load.  It’s not so much about the enjoyment of the trip.  (“In this world you will have tribulation” Jn.16:33). This is after all not a cruise.  But I am temporarily on the planet for a purpose and it’s not just to manage my suitcases!

What am I carrying that pre-occupies me, making me short-sighted and short of hands to help another?

I’m asking the Lord…

  • What needs to be jettisoned’I can live without that.’  (But show me how!)  Help me to assess old stubborn thought patterns and make them obedient to Christ.  Show me the lies that cripple me from fulfilling God’s agenda for my journey.
  • What needs to be ‘checked’'Lord, you carry this one to its destination.’ Teach me to pray and leave the results in your Hands.
  • And what is mine to carry’What is my mission in life?’ And what are the tools and skills I need to carry it out?  Help me identify my priorities and feel free to leave the rest.

I watched out the window one afternoon as a mom walked by with her young boys.  They were heading home from school.  On each of the mom’s shoulders hung a backpack, while her two boys scampered about kicking stones, tussling with each other, falling behind and dashing ahead, as carefree as puppies let out to play. 

Is this  what God wishes to do for me—to carry my burdens?  They are nothing for his shoulders.  He would gladly take them and free me to be a child in His care-- freed to laugh, to run, to celebrate His company.  And in my freedom  might I not better see beyond myself to passersby in need of a hand and a hope of Home?

Ahh, to travel light.  I’m dreaming of it. 

What’s more, spring is on its way; it might be just about time for a trip east to visit kin…better start a proper packing list!


He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me. ... Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Ps. 55:18, 22 ESV

I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me!
Ps. 119:19 ESV

"Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.
Ps. 39:12 ESV

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God: Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. ... The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. ... So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Ps.90:1, 10, 12 ESV


Val said...

Just to be efficient for the Master…..

Linda said...

Or maybe it's needing to take hands off of trying to BE the Master of my days...