In just about 6 weeks Dorrie and I will be heading out to our sabbatical and vacation adventures. We will be having quiet time, traveling time, time to visit family and friends, and especially, time to immerse ourselves in the big outdoors. As we grow closer to the start of our “time out of time” which is how I am imagining the sabbatical, we are looking at our baggage. What will fit in our backpacks and in our tiny trailer and what we will be giving away now or along the way.
Lent is a perfect time for “letting go” so we can grow closer to each other and to God, and it is a good time to reflect on what burdens are in fact ours to carry, wherever we are. How providential that I am starting to pack up during this long season that is focused on preparing ourselves for Resurrection; but not before giving a whole lot up.
This week I came across a reflection on the classic book Pilgrim’s Progress. The book begins with “Christian” at the start of his journey. Barry Moser painted a picture of Christian in Moser’s illustrated version of the book. The painter has the traveler bent over with the weight of his backpack. “Behold, I saw a man clothed with rags…a book in his hand, and a great burden on his back.”
The weight of our backpacks are as varied as each of us. For some of us the weight is light as we have dropped off quite a bit during our lives. For other’s like Christian, the weight bends us almost to the ground.
Regrets. Obligations. Treasures. Grief. Mis-steps. Anxiety and fears. Maps. If only. Opportunities missed. Letters unanswered. Injustice ignored. Losses endured.
I have my share of all of these. And I also have my share of another kind of weight. The weight that is more like “weightiness” or fullness of being.
Joys. Gratitude. Perspective. Connections. Daring. Surprises. Mercy. Love that is almost unbearable in it’s immensity. Laughter that doubles me over. Foolishness. Grace.
One type of weight does not wipe out the other. The combination makes the whole pack so full that I wonder how I can even get out of bed, never mind on the road, with all that is on my back. And yet…laying it all out like this, and knowing that I can only see the tip of what it is that I am carrying and what I might put down, I am grateful that Lent is a long season and that the sabbatical time is coming closer. Time to rest and be restored. Time to open to something new. Time to let go and let God in.