I’m a classic over-packer. Even as I’ve worked on simplifying and becoming more of a “minimalist” in my home and my everyday life, it seems that when I’m getting ready to go on a trip, I’m always tempted to bring just a little too much. An outfit for every possible weather scenario, a few more books than I know I’ll actually have time to read (Yes, I still pack real books!), and a few other “essentials” that might come in handy, you know… just in case.
When traveling, I want to be prepared and I want to be comfortable. It seems responsible to try to remember everything I might need and honestly there’s nothing worse than being far from home and wishing you had something you left behind!
So, I wonder why in this week’s gospel Jesus asks us to travel lightly? Mark says: “He ordered them 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.” Having had the chance to visit Israel and after walking through some of the same places Jesus and his disciples most likely walked, I now know I surely wouldn’t want to be making that journey unprepared!
And while there is something to be learned from simplicity when it comes to physical possessions, perhaps Jesus is using the physical to help us understand something about the spiritual journey he asks us to take with him. Because unlike our physical journeys, when we enter into the spiritual journey with Jesus, he knows there’s nothing we can bring that will fully prepare us for where he’s leading us. He asks us to be open, to embrace the unknown, to trust the journey and to trust him. He wants us to be dependent on him and not on ourselves. And perhaps he wants to teach us that maybe it’s ok that we aren’t always comfortable or that we don’t always have exactly what we want, but instead to believe that he’ll always provide us with exactly what we need. And maybe he’s asking us to empty our “suitcases” of unnecessary things – like expectations, fears, resentments – and allow ourselves to be light and free, so there’s nothing holding us back from entering fully into this journey with him.
So while I work on trying to become more like that person that can just walk onto an airplane with a tiny purse (rather than trying to jam my overstuffed backpack under the seat in front of me!), I think there’s a challenge here for all of us. What are we packing on our spiritual journeys? Can we trust God enough to know that he is all we need?