What do I need for this journey of Spirit? Stories of pilgrimage dance in my head: Wise Ones bringing precious gifts, slaves leaving Egypt in the dead of night with just what they could carry, Jesus’ disciples taking nothing with them. I remember the old adage, “You can’t take it with you.” But I live in an time and ethos of acquisition, where more is better and one always needs to be be prepared. There is a gizmo for everything and every gadget has its place.
Part of the call of the Spirit Road is the call to leave behind things that might seem to be essential for me when I am snug in my dwelling place, not so useful as I journey. Airplanes are making sure that we observe the limits of overload as we take flight from here to there. So they push me to travel lightly, with just what is necessary. On this leg of the journey of Spirit I am pondering what that is.
This week I am getting ready to go on retreat; I am leading the retreat and the pull of habit on me is to add just one more thing—to my basket of books, to my bag of surprises, to my words of inspiration. My shelves are lined with such wisdom, and my closets are overflowing with images and sounds I have saved for just the right time. And I have been sure that I need to shop for one more perfect thing. Yet, as the day of leaving gets closer, I am being directed to leaving some of those “darlings” behind, and to carry just what is necessary.
For this retreat only one thing is necessary: that I trust the movement of the Spirit in me and in the other retreatants. We have read the same book, are at home in sacred Hebrew and Christian scripture. Over 8 years of retreating together and meeting monthly for 10, we bring listening ears, perceptive eyes and open hearts. We bring memories of where we have been and the ways that the Spirit has met us.We also bring hope for what will be done in us and through us. We tote gentle songs in our voices, images in our imaginations and acute sensory awareness for all that will await us. This is the work of the Spirit!
So, I can travel lightly, unencumbered by the anxiety of needing to have thought of everything, free from the worry of covering every base, open to what the wind of the Spirit will blow into our midst. I will still have a few bags in my car, carrying a few things that remind me of the ways that Spirit Grace has brought me safely thus far. And I will bring a Word that has been blossoming me over these weeks of preparation.
However, I can travel with freedom–knowing Who goes with me and with whom I will celebrate and worship. G. K. Chesterton has said, “Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly.” Toward this retreat I would be one who flies…taking myself lightly and presuming on the mercy of the Spirit who lets me fly!