Lost Baggage

On a trip to Rome for the wedding of a relative who grew up there and whose parents still live in Rome, my husband and I arrived but our suitcases didn’t.  Trying to sleep the second night we were there, lying in bed wearing my friend’s nightgown, I fretted.  Not only was I missing my clothes for coping with the heat of Rome and the special dress I had picked for the wedding, I was missing jewelry I had packed, including several pieces of some value and much sentimental significance.

I felt foolish for having packed the necklaces, helpless in the face of cultural and language barriers and airline run-arounds, and pained by the mistakes and losses.  I lay there hurting.  Eventually I turned to prayer—not so much the kind with words addressed to God requesting a fix or a rescue, but more putting my heart in the goodness of God.  At a certain point I felt myself let go.  I valued the clothes and jewelry; but as far as I knew they were gone, and they were only things, possessions.  I had a choice—to be miserable or to make the best of things and be open and present to the adventure.

I had a wonderful time.  Letting go of fretting about my losses also let go much of my usual need to be in control and even my perfectionism.  In the week we were in Rome I found joy all over the place.  And that joy has followed me home, allowing even more spiritual and psychological changes and freedom.

In reflecting on the experience I find myself back in the Lord ’s PrayerGive us this day our daily bread.  As I understand these words, all we need is what God knows we need for this one day.  All the extra is unnecessary, maybe even baggage that gets in the way of life.  I still have too much stuff, and I’m not interested in losing anything.  But I do have a taste of another way.

(P.S.: We did retrieve our luggage, with no items missing, one month after it should have arrived in Rome.)

Queries:

What baggage would you benefit from letting go?

Where can you go for comfort and direction when things go wrong?

Prayer:

Creator and Sustainer, help me to know what really matters and to be able to let go of the rest.

For further reflection:

“Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (See Luke 12: 13-21.)

“. . . do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. . . (See Matthew 6: 25-34).

Hurting

My husband Ralph took our grandsons John and Andrew skiing in Colorado over their spring break.  Andrew had been before and is an accomplished skier.  Ralph had taken John skiing years ago at a small ski area in West Virginia, but never in Colorado, so Ralph started him out in a beginners’ class in the resort’s ski school.  The necessary precautions were taken, but when John, following the instructor’s directions, started to ski down the mountain, he didn’t make it.  Instead he picked up speed and lost control, got his ski stuck in the snow, fell hard, and broke his leg quite badly.  The skiing was finished, and a trip to the Denver Children’s Hospital began the new challenges.

In Davidson a 49-year-old mother of four children had a business of pet-sitting and dog-walking.  At an intersection on Main Street that had a new crosswalk and pedestrian-crossing light, she got a walk-light and headed across the street with two dogs in tow.  At the same time a big garbage truck, with a green light, turned the very sharp left onto Main.  Neither the woman nor the driver of the truck saw each other until it was too late.  The woman and one of the dogs were killed.  The driver was taken away in handcuffs.  Word came quickly that no speeding and no alcohol were involved, and that the driver was a respected employee.

Both situations hurt to the core of my being.  I would like to lash out, be angry, and blame someone—as if that could change the situation.   With John, while I was home alone worrying about them, I spent one night imagining John’s trip down the mountain and trying to make the accident not happen—as I do when I have a scary dream and wake enough to try to imagine something different happening in the dream that will overcome the scariness.  Of course that didn’t change anything, and with both situations I am simply left with grief and a big hurt in my heart and my belly.

Where is comfort—for me and for those even more intimately involved?  Speaking for others seems cheap and wrong.  For me, I can do something to reach out and express care in some way.  I can share the hurting with others.  Holding it together makes the hurt a little lighter or less unbearable.  And I can cry out to God, hold it in the Light, lift it to the heart of Jesus, be still in the Presence.

Queries:

How have you or others you know handled the grief and hurt of a terrible situation you can’t change?

What spiritual resources give you comfort?

Prayer:

Divine Mercy, we long for your presence and healing touch.

For further reflection:

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases”. . . (See Lamentations 3: 16-26).

“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).