and what to leave behind?
IN LENT and IN LIFE
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:
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!