Pack lightly and carry a big heart

Packing this week, okay, this month, for this pilgrimage has been an interesting exercise in self-reflection.

My gathering theme has become: pack light and carry a big heart.

Linguistically, it has the same rhythm of that old saying:  Walk softly and carry a big stick

Though I remembered that saying from a movie decades old it looks like the saying had more noble origins.


Years ago I heard Oprah say that women have so many clothes in their closets because they are dressing three women:

the woman they were

the woman they are

the woman they are becoming.

I can go through my closet and label most of what I own in those three ways.


As I set out on this pilgrimage, I also recall the words of my favorite poet, Alla Renee Bozarth  who begins her epic poem Passover Remembered with these words:


Pack nothing.

Bring only your determination to serve

and your willingness to be free.


Honestly, I am not doing so well with the pack nothing idea… but I do hear the wisdom in theory.


As I sit at the airport waiting to board our flight, I wonder: What do I need to leave on this side of the ocean?






Old resentments


Expectations of myself or others


Usual ways of being in the world (like thinking too much)


In the recent days, my pain, which had been relatively stable, has ramped up.

Boy, would like to leave it behind.

As I’ve grieved its presence in my life, seen a new doctor with new ideas about it.  and prayerfully sought to listen to what God might be trying to say to me through my body, all I “hear” is

 Let your pain open your soul.

 One of the reasons I have internally labeled those words as an invitation from the Spirit is because it’s nothing I want to hear. Nor would I say I really know what it means much less how to do it. When my pain increases, I want to do anything but open… I want to contract and shut down, to clinch my fists and my brace body against it.  I want to curl up in my bed.

Instead, I am heading across the ocean on pilgrimage.  Go figure.

Let your pain open your soul.

 It makes me think of being in labor with my children. Painful contraction worked to open the way for someone new to be born.


May I, like Mother Mary, breathe, “Let it be.”










Focusing Curiosity on Integrity
Repentance redefined: Giving up exhaustion and opening to change
Ungodly contentment
Focusing curiosity on ruts