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I’ve recently returned home from a trip. As I was in the process of packing, I had to think about what I needed to take, what I wanted to take, and what I’d have to leave behind. These were all laid out in 3 piles on the spare bed. Part of the challenge was that I needed to pack for 3 destinations, each with a different climate, each with differing levels of appropriate attire. So the 3 piles each had multiple sections.

I tend to travel light, and was changing locales regularly, so I am packed what I need for 3 weeks away into one pack. A single, 40 litre backpack. Yes, I love a challenge. I also have equipment to help condense what I have – compression sacks jammed and crammed my clothing beyond recognition, but without taking up air space. Travel-sized containers take up smaller space in the whole. And the backpack itself is divided into convenient sections to make the process easier.

And so I packed. Carefully, strategically, in an organised manner. I made sure that what I needed first (toothbrush) was readily accessible and easily found. I packed those things that I would need but not straight away (sandals) nearer the bottom of the bag – so I could access them when the time came but so they were not getting in the way until then. And I made sure that some things which would be nice to have but are either not essential (laptop) or too heavy (hardcover Don Quixote) were just left at home. I was also aware that I would inevitably forget to pack something, that needs would arise that I hadn’t planned on, and that some of the things Id be carrying wouldn’t ever be touched.

As I was thinking about what I was packing physically, I was also pondering on what I pack emotionally and spiritually. We all of us have baggage that we carry with us through life. Some good, some bad; some small, some large. I think we’re challenged to consider what we’re carrying with us in the metaphorical sense.

Some of this baggage we carry with us daily, and seem to pull out constantly. Some of it we only think of from time to time. Some of it we carry with us even when we should let it go, and so it drags us down.  Some of it brings us joy and peace and is worth carrying.

I’m pondering on my own baggage – meanings I’ve attached to objects that I can’t seem to go without, quirks that have become part of who I am and how I respond, things that push my buttons, grudges held from the past, memories I’ve forgotten until some unexpected event triggers them, random sensations of joy or peace at familiar scents or sights. You get the idea – the list goes on.

So I’m reflecting on my baggage, and what I want to pack for life’s journey. It’s a self-reflective process that seems fitting for Lent. It’s a time to contemplate what I want to carry with me, what I can shrink down, what needs to be given greater or lesser importance, and what needs to be let go because it is just too heavy or too big to continue with. Sure, there will be times when I’ll realise I’ve left something out, or that something has been let go too soon, or that what I’m carrying has left me unprepared. But it’s my baggage – and I am the one who has to carry it, for good or for ill.

How do you address issues of spiritual baggage in your life? Do you have too much, or too little? Are you carrying a useful pack, or is the weight dragging you down?

About Laura Marie Piotrowicz

I'm a high-energy priest, now serving in the Diocese of Niagara, catching glimpses of the kingdom in daily life. I consider church to be a verb, and I'm passionate about prayer, eco-theology, and social justice. I love travel, reading, canoeing, camping, gardening and cooking, playing with my dogs, and drinking good coffee.
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