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.”










  • marygems

    Your heart spoke directly to my heart through this post.
    May God go with you as you travel- may you leave your pain behind- yet- I hear your willingness to let God use it. How brave….you encouraged me at the deepest level through this sharing.May I gift you my favourite bible passage to take with you:
    “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family
    in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious
    riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your
    inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
    And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have
    power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and
    high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that
    surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure
    of all the fullness of God.

  • Anna J.

    Good gracious, how this resonates with my path in life right now, and with blog post I wrote yesterday! This land of my current residence strips us down to our core, in so many ways. And I think that is the truest way of walking with our good God . . . life is nothing if not fully present in the gift of it. Thanks for the good word of truth, Janet.

  • Bill DeForest

    OK so here’s my prediction for you: you are stronger and more able than you think you are and you will discover both in your travels. Savor the “duh, I could have changed, started, stopped, or done this differently a long time ago” moments because these too are gifts. The best of all is that you’re going anyway instead of letting the ***** (fill in your favorite) get the best or even the most of you.
    Best wishes.

  • kalim

    What is death?

    I want to share this sentences From Risalei Nur collection by Said Nursi

    Death is not destruction, or nothingness, or annihilation; it is not cessation, or extinction; it is not eternal separation, or non-existence, or a chance event; it is not authorless obliteration. Rather, it is being discharged by the Author Who is All-Wise and All-Compassionate; it is a change of abode. It is being despatched to eternal bliss, to your true home. It is the door of union to the Intermediate Realm, which is where you will meet with ninety-nine per cent of your friends.”