This evening, I am scurrying around my home and assorted shops, trying to prepare things for an early morning flight tomorrow. I feel like I have been rushing in circles for days: getting a lot done at work, but, around the edges, buying sneakers and shirts and books and getting cash and printing documents and on and on and on. Some of this is logical. Some of it begs the question: why is it only when preparing for a trip that I notice I do not own comfortable shoes? All of it is about being prepared, being comfortable, leaving as little as possible to chance.
It is as different as possible from last summer, when I decided to walk a portion of the Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrim trail that has crossed Spain since the Medieval era. That trip, too, took a lot of preparation, but it was all about taking as little as possible. Everything I brought was going to have to be carried on my back, and the weight was everything. I found tiny tubes of toothpaste, leaves of soap, shirts and shorts made to weigh nothing and dry in a flash. Two pairs of each, and one item in which to keep warm. The strange thing was, it worked just fine. I was able to do without much of what I would normally consider essential, and it did not make much difference in my life. (OK, there were one day and several nights when I was really cold.)
Jesus’ own instructions were to travel lightly; he told his disciples, “to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.” (Mark 6:8-9) Most of us cannot carry out the responsibilities of our daily lives with only one shirt and a pair of sandals, but it is also true that most of us are far from Christlike simplicity.
Somewhere between the two, there is a balance. Somewhere, there is a place called “enough.” Play with it this summer. As you plan to travel or to staycation or to work, take stock of what you own and what you actually use. If you own six coats, or twenty pairs of shoes, try giving some away. My guess is that you will feel warmer and walk more lightly, and so will those you have blessed.
The photo above is from Peter Menzel, Material World: A Global Family Portrait. It’s a series of images of families with the things they own gathered around them. If you’d like food for thought, you can see some of the images here: http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2010/08/10/129113632/picturingpossessions