Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Traveling Light - Leaving Baggage Behind -

A key tenant for chaplains endorsed by my endorsing organization (CPSP) is that we "travel light." This belief is that we hold no animosity toward others, we choose to not judge, we carry no bundles of books and robes and collars and banners, and we own no buildings. We are travelers, bringing with us who we are, not what we have.

This principle goes well with my personal beliefs - baggage only makes the journey harder, heavier, less enjoyable.

When I was going through cancer treatments, there were days when I lay in bed and cleared my mind - sorted and sifted through my own emotional baggage, and asking for forgiveness where possible, giving forgiveness where necessary.

And on the days when my blood count was low, but I was functioning, I sorted and sifted through my house. Cabinet by cabinet, room by room, corner by corner, I touched and tossed or saved every single item in my house.

By the time April 18, 2013 rolled around, my mind and my house were much lighter.

But just because my house is more clean and better organized does not mean my traveling lighter has ended. I notice my baggage often, and I try to attack it immediately rather than letting it sit around taking up space.

For instance - my "no" last week? That mess was with me for quite some time, but as soon as it was over, I reviewed the experience, looked for what I could learn from it, and then moved past it. In fact, even the thought of undertaking that potential journey was heavy, there was baggage from the beginning that I would have to carry - baggage that was not mine. Last week an encounter with a work colleague that wasn't smooth took a short, "I'm sorry, how can I do better," and then a promise to do so, and a step forward. Today I had a tiny melt-down with Scott. And rather than even carry that with me through the day, I quickly owned my anger (really anxiety and doubt), asked for forgiveness, and moved into the day - and thank heavens so did Scott, also choosing to travel light. Emotional house cleaning is as beneficial as literal, and when the two are combined, as they were today, well, I feel so much better - and both of my houses look dandy!

When we left for Amsterdam we took an extra piece of luggage, just for keepsakes, and we spent a decent amount of time looking for things we could bring home - mementos as well as gifts. And the gifts we shared were awesome and well received.

But we decided our trip to Switzerland would be a great opportunity to travel lighter, with only our backpacks and no room for souvenirs.

Talk about freedom! Traveling around the country with only what we could carry on our back gave us the opportunity to not shop, but to look, linger, savor, our experiences. We each bought a small item, and we brought home some chocolate, but otherwise, we arrived home with what we took from home. Wow - did that make unpacking easy!

Now I'm not talking about living a life with no obligations, responsibilities, or memories, but I do know this - that when I'm traveling - whether in my heart, my mind, or with my own two feet, that I'm lighter when I'm carrying less - when I'm not burdened, but lightened by my load.

As a chaplain this is extraordinarily important - if I bring my burdens into a visit with a patient, they can sense this; I add to their load, and then, interestingly, I add their load to mine - I don't want to bring any type of illness "back with me." As a teacher this is so important - if I carried every student's "my dog at my paper," excuse I would be stuck under a pyramid of dog poop. I listen, reflect, and then move on, praying those I serve will find answers to their burdens, not praying that I will find an answer to their burden. And when I travel - particularly lately - I enjoy the few items in my suitcase, but knowing my choices are limited leaves me free to use my energy in other ways - especially of having experiences that will turn in to fond memories.

And my house? Oh goodness - ask me - "Where is your . . . " Because I'll know. I won't have to wonder and hunt and sort through piles to find it.

I keep reminding myself that the only things I can take with me are my experiences and my memories, and I will not leave my burdens or things, for someone else to carry when I'm gone. Some days I carry excess baggage, too much, belongs to someone else; I think we all do. But I find when I drop what's not mine, the world is a better place for everyone.

Travel light - part of the Hygge experience, part of Nourishing myself, Gleaning - taking only what I need, what I can use.

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