Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What to Pack?

and what to leave behind?


In preparing for our family pilgrimage to Italy, our packing lists have been carefully edited to allow for lightweight packs and ease of travel, and specifically to avoid checking any luggage.  This means that we will necessarily leave behind many of the comforts of home, including favorite items of clothing, books, and other 'luxury items.'  The trade-off is that by leaving behind unnecessary things, we can travel unencumbered by bulk, by stuff we don't really need.  This should make for a more pleasant, peaceful trip.

During our journey some things will be easily forgotten (messy pets, daily chores, planning meetings) while the absence of some other things will be somewhat painful (cell phones, vehicles, home sweet home).
A few days ago we pre-packed our bags for a sense of how things fit and what would go where.  My camera was truly the odd man out.  Didn't fit here, didn't fit there, didn't really seem to want to go (gasp!).
Could I really go to Europe without my favorite camera?  I'm embarrassed to admit how much mental energy went into this decision!

Out of the blue, God gave me my answer through the words of a complete stranger, whom I "met" through a Craig's List ad.  Her words were like gold: 
I bet your sweet family would much rather spend vacation making memories with you than have you taking pictures of them on vacation.  I had to learn the hard way last year when we went to Mt St. Helens for our family vacation and my then 4 year old daughter wanted to hold my hand and skip with me on the boardwalk thingy at this little lake where the sunset was pink on the water and Mt St. Helens was just gorgeously lit and I kept standing there taking pictures and she kept asking me to please stop and I kept telling her "Just a minute!" and then she finally burst into tears and said "Momma...please stop taking pictures of the mountain and skip with me...I thought you weren't going to work so we could have special time..." and I about died right there. I then packed that stupid camera up and put it in the trunk and left it there the rest of the vacation. And we had the most fun on vacation we have ever had and even though they don't have a billion photos.... Take the purse sized camera.
Message received.  Decision made.  Into the safe deposit goes my favorite camera, and into my pack goes the little point and shoot. 

On our Lenten journey toward Easter we should likewise be asking ourselves, "What should I take and what should I leave behind?"  Old habits, weaknesses, character defects, endless distractions... wouldn't it be great if we could simply be rid of these forever?  Never pick them up again?  And yet, somehow they creep into our suitcase, like stow-aways, invading the space we had hoped would be free from unnecessary baggage.   By God's grace we can keep tossing this extra, unnecessary clutter out.  In doing so, we can better prepare to receive the beautiful gifts God has in store for us.  

Create empty space for God during Lent, rather than trying to squeeze God into an already packed space. We cannot truly listen to God unless there's open space in our hearts.  We don't come by this open space easily, it requires our vigilance and our constant effort.  Consider that Lent is 1/10 of a year and tithe this time to God.  Fast. Pray. Give.  Allow for a transfiguration at Easter by making the necessary adjustments now.  It might not be easy, but it will be well worth the extra effort.

May God bless your efforts and mine!


Theophanes said...

I like the post on simplicity and distractions. btw, picture on top - was that with the dslr or the p&s? fr.qtn

Buhler family said...

What a beautiful post! I never thought of tying lent and packing together, your analogy was so insightful! I wish your family a wonderful and memorable trip, I'll pray for your safety.
P.S. those little cameras can take nice pics. Think of your photography as a mere supplement to the nice memories that will be made.

Christopher Paul said...

"empty space for God" I'm guessing you got that from the homily tuesday night. (that was one of the few things I managed to get from the homily)
truly written well and to the point...

and the picture story is too good!

Ciel said...

Beautiful message Bridget, you are an excellent writer - Safe and fun travels to you - hope you get to meet/see/listen to the pope at the Vatican!

toadlaketeacher said...

No camera?! What an elegant decision. Make room for God instead. Hmm. Thoughts to ponder. (My first comment!!) C