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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Recuerdos...Reminders

While I wish I were not attached to stuff, I am. It is not all stuff I am attached to, but certain things that have a sentimental value have traveled my journey with me.  I have a cross, a New Testament signed on the last senior retreat I worked (just a few weeks before I left on my journey), a retreat medallion, and a book my students and I created together, a copy of which I received the day I left, from my last year of teaching.  Every day I wear two bracelets and a ring given to me by friends.  I have cards, letters, and prayers given to me before I left or sent to me while I've been away. I have a "Keep smiling" pillowcase my dearest friend gave me many years ago. The picture on my phone is my family... I have the two cars my youngest nephews gave me as going away presents.  If you've been following my blog or are my Facebook friend, you've seen the cars featured in many a picture. I post the pictures so my nephews know I am taking good care of Lightning and Finn... Some of what I carry is functional; most, to a practical sort of person, is not.

As I've traveled I have bought things and been given gifts.  At various points, most recently a few days ago, I've had a chance to send accumulated items home.  I have sent some of the souvenirs and gifts home already. I simply can't carry them all.  Others, the smaller things like jewelry, I continue to carry. When I think about all the gifts I received in India and Palestine, I am in awe of the generosity they represent...

The things I listed at the beginning of this post continue to travel with me. They must continue the journey with me, despite the weight and space they take up in my luggage.  They represent everyone who is on the journey with me. I know the people they represent would be with me in spirit even if I didn't carry physical reminders, but I like the reminders, especially the ones I wear each day...

This morning I walked with a guy from my hostel to the train station.  When I walked out of the hostel with all my stuff, my walking companion looked at me incredulously and said, "I thought you said you gave the school group things to carry home." I did. My big backpack is much lighter than it was before, but I still have a small backpack and a carry-on suitcase with me.  The carry-on now primarily holds items that will serve as gifts to people who host me as I travel. I want to pass along some of the generosity I've received.  Today I gave my latest host a spice mix from Palestine and a book by an author we were discussing yesterday. I hadn't sent the book home because I thought I'd re-read it, but this morning when I opened the suitcase to take out the spices, I knew the book must soon belong to my host...

My  morning walking companion's  question reminded me of my stated mission many months ago "to be light."   I haven't yet perfected "being light" in the physical sense!! But because I know what I carry in my bags, I'm ok with their weight.  I'll carry the weight until I get home, just as I know my loved ones are carrying me in so many ways across so many miles... The things I carry remind me of so many reasons to be grateful... I don't ever want to lose that sense of gratitude.  And so I continue carrying my reminders.

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