Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals....
We just got back from vacation, which included a lot more boarding passes than I thought it would. One of our planes was late, and one was over-sold, and a very kind ticket agent helped us find a creative way home from vacation, in the end. (Her name is Aida, and she is from Bosnia.)
During the past few years we have been trying to simplify traveling by plane by only taking carry-ons: no checked luggage. This means that our vacations are somewhat shorter (at least the ones where we travel by air), and we try hard to travel light.
I always think I have accomplished this at the beginning of the vacation, when I root unnecessary items out of my purse and consider how to mix and match outfits by color scheme. But I never travel light enough for the end of the vacation, when the items I thought I needed start to become a burden, and I realize that there were a few things I really didn't need.
For example, as it turned out, I only needed one sweater. And I didn't do any knitting this vacation, despite the fact that I brought that sock pattern along.
But the final realization came when the security people decided they needed to dump the contents of my entire purse out on a countertop, because they thought my keychain looked like a pocket knife.
Suddenly, I looked a lot like a hoarder, and the purse looked like one of those little clown cars where the clowns just keep coming out......
Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals, Jesus said to the disciples, getting ready to go on the road. In other words, Travel Light. For some reason, it was important to Jesus that his disciples not take too much weight with them when they went to the towns and villages to which they were going.
Maybe this wasn't so hard for them as it is for us. But there has to be a reason Jesus said it, so perhaps even for first century missionaries, there was a danger of taking too much and being Weighed Down. There was a danger of getting bogged down in security and not really seeing what they were there to see.
Travel light, Jesus tells his disciples. And somehow I think he's not just talking about my purse, with the keys and the laptop and the extra book and all of the other stuff that I can't imagine leaving home without. Somehow I think he's not just talking about the makeup and the aspirin and the lotion for aching feet that I have to put in a plastic bag.
I somehow suspect that Jesus is talking as well about other things that weigh us down: assumptions, for one thing. When we go to those other towns and villages sometimes the things we think we already know weigh us down, and keep us from seeing what we need to see, and doing what we need to do. Sometimes we hold our dogmas too tightly, until we are weighed down by all of the ideas of what we are supposed to believe. Sometimes the problem is that we have large suitcases filled with What Is Most Important.
While we were wandering around with our carry-ons, trying to find a plane to take us home, people in San Francisco were quickly evacuating a burning plane. I heard later that some of them found the time to grab their luggage before they fled. Their large suitcase filled with What is Most Important.
Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals.
So, what is most important, anyway? When the plane is burning, when you are stuck in a strange city, when you feel weighed down?
What is most important?
It seems to me at this moment, that a ticket agent named Aida, from Bosnia is most important.
Perhaps to those on the burning plane in San Francisco, guides who showed the way to the nearest exit were most important. And the ones they were guiding: they too were most important.
Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals.
Just bring yourself.
And show the way.