What do you take with you as you travel?
In earlier years, I think I carried way too much luggage with me when I traveled. Now, I want to travel lighter. In earlier years, I carried all the worries, all the troubles, all the made-up anxieties I could with me. I didn’t set those things down. I carried them with me, whether they belonged to me, or not.
As the years have passed, I have set many of those heavy things down as I have journeyed. I set them down, and as I looked at them one last time, I saw that some of those things did not belong to me at all – never had! Still, they had been a weight in my luggage, and so I noticed when I set them down.
Some of the things I carried belonged to my mother, and my father. Some of the things I carried with me belonged to the older ancestors, to some whose faces I had never seen, whose names I do not even know. I carried them with me, and I set them down. Some of the things I carried with me belonged to others, not to me at all. Somehow, I had snagged these things on my coat or in my hand, and so, I threw them into my luggage, along with all the rest.
As I get older, I not only want to carry less. As I get older, I do not have the strength, I think, to carry as much. And I don’t want to carry all that luggage, either. I try to pack light now.
When I think of my life as a journey, I see a trajectory. I look back, and I see the trajectory that was there, all the time, although I was not able to see it at the time. I see that I could not take one step that truly led me away from my path, although sometimes I wondered. I can see myself, in my younger years, wondering, wondering. Am I on the right path? Is this the way? Is this the way, to what? I see myself, younger, stopping often, wondering, confused, a question mark floating in the air above my head. Wondering.
Some of the things I carried with me belonged not only to the ancestors, but to the others whose journeys intersected with mine. Sometimes I was was confused, and I thought the things that belonged to them belonged to me: their shame, their anger, their own confusion, their own maps for their own paths. I set those things down as I came to travel lighter.
The things I carry now are so much lighter, and I choose more carefully, about what I will put into my luggage. I don’t need all those things. I need less, much less than I thought I needed when I was young. I don’t want all those things. All those things, I see, do not make me shine any more brightly; in fact, all those things cover, like a shadow, me – the real me, the one who has been on this journey, all along.
Sometimes I’ve been lonely on the journey. Now, I see that the loneliness was good. Sometimes I’ve been tired, for a long, long time. I suppose that carrying all that heavy stuff made me tired. Sometimes I have allowed my confusion to convince me that I must have made a wrong turn. No, no, I am still on the journey, another part of me offered.
Now, I find, the journey has led me to this place. The place is me. That’s all. Simply me. Not much here but me! And me – I have been me, truly, all along. I see that I had to set those things down along the way, because they did not serve me, did not serve me at all. Still, I had to make this journey.
The journey of return – to me.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” – Genesis 1:31a, NIV