Saturday, October 3, 2009

Excess Baggage

My niece and her fiance drove a big rig (though in their neck of the woods it's kind of like volvos and priuses are in this tree-hugging college town, the standard vehicle) across the state today to bring us furniture and boxes.  Then we (by 'we', I mean Beve, E, and the two Palouse-dwellers, not me!) loaded up their rig with furniture from here.  We were laughing about this procedure, which has happened too many times to count over the course of our lives.  We've transported kids back and forth, clothing, dogs and furniture.  Today's cargo was an entertainment center (going east) and a futon--the frame of which Beve built when J was just a baby. The westbound furniture was a coffee table, which went east from here a few years ago, and now has boomeranged back to our carport, and a daybed from my mom's house, which we intend to put in J's room.  It's white metal, with a little flourish and gold, and J will love sleeping on it, beneath the pretty flowered sheets and comforter Mom picked out a decade ago.  But he lives in a cell or perhaps it's even smaller than a typical cell, and his double bed takes up too much space, space that's totally overrun with books, clothes and the occasional empty pop (soda) can.

You should have seen me this afternoon, offering everything in our carport to my niece.  This seems like a reasonable, even prudent, way to get rid of excess baggage.  That's what it all is, I think.  We've carried around some of this stuff all our married life.  We've carted it into U-Haul trucks, unloaded it into garages and storage units, then moved it again when we relocated.  It's really ridiculous.

But worse is the spiritual baggage we (and that means you as well as I) carry around with us throughout our lives.  The tapes that play in our head which tell us we aren't good enough,  pretty enough,or are doomed to fail, or all the other negative messages that have been recorded from poor experiences and relationships.  It makes me think of the homeless people in our town who push shopping carts piled high with black plastic bags.  Who knows if those people, who also wear layers more clothing than they actually need most of the year around here, even know what's in the bottom of those bags, but they keep pushing those carts.  Up hills and down. And that's exactly what we do.  Isn't it?

And I think about how airlines now charge for baggage, or, in the best cases, excess baggage.  What is the price we pay for the excess spiritual baggage in our lives?  What does it cost us to push that dang shopping cart full of all our past biases and self-loathings (sin, one might call it!)?

God, I can say with confidence, wants us to let go of that shopping cart full of garbage.  He wants us to stop carrying around all that excess baggage.  He wants us to travel light, to let go of anything we don't really need. And He alone knows what we need.  As Beve would say, quoting Jim Elliot, "He is no fool who loses what he cannot keep, to keep what he cannot lose."

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