I. It seems that whenever I’m getting ready to travel, with all its packing and unpacking, this pesky gospel about “traveling light” rolls around. Contrary to Jesus’ advice, I consistently overpack. I always carry money in my belt with my ATM card. And enough books, socks, and Peanut M&M’s to see me through September.
We maintain that, if we had to give it up, we could. But, we never really try it. How desperately we cling to our baggage, rather than trust in the maternal love and fatherly providence of God.
II. But there’s another reason to travel light: the less we pack, the more space we have to accept what others provide: the humility to depend on others, ready to receive what they offer us—not money or Peanut M&M’s, but wisdom, knowledge, and grace. We often want to fix something for the other— a suffering immigrant brother and sister, for one—and that’s a good thing. But perhaps, rather than presuming just how to do that, what is needed is the humility to admit that we don’t have the answers, after all. But what all of us have to offer to anyone whose culture and language and life experience is different from ours, and those whose way is difficult, is to be there with them, to stay there with them in what might be an uncomfortable place, with nothing more and nothing less than our companionship. Less talk and more listening. Less leading and more being led.
Jesus instructs his disciples today to “stay there until you leave.” Well, of course. Maybe what we need to do is just stay there. Just stay there.
III. Some weeks ago my right arm was wrapped in a bandage as I’d broken my wrist. I was in our school when a third-grader—let’s call her Angel—approached me, wanting to know what had happened to my arm, if it hurt very bad, etc., so I filled her in on all the details. She walked with me down the hall a ways when she said, “Here, I’ll help you.” She took my arm in her hands and lifted it, carried it, and very solemnly led me down to her classroom. Angel’s companionship, her accompaniment, were pretty good therapy for the wrist and the soul.
Stay there until you leave. Just stay there.
h/t: Henri Nouwen