In a nutshell and a backpack…

There are five days left until we fly.

Sometime about a week ago, I took advantage of an off-day and began to pack for our new life on the road.  While travel is not a new form of life for me, I can accurately say that this kind of travel is not what I’m used to.  When I lived in Ireland, I had two suitcases to serve as my closet: my nest of belongings.  At the time I was proud of how simplistic I thought I was being to live with such a small amount of things for three and a half months.  In Honduras, I had even less: just a suitcase if I recall…but that little suitcase needed only to serve as my closet for ten days.  In the month my family spent driving from Ohio to Alaska and back, the entire 1986 Dodge Ram Van served as my beloved home.  (Consider this a tangential thought spoken with eyes cast out to the distance: “I loved that van…”)

As I said…this kind of travel is new.  Never before have I filled a backpack with everything I’ll need for the next six months, including sufficient articles of clothing for walking the streets of Chicago in wind that forebodes winter, seasons of service in India and Thailand in conditions I have no frame of reference for, stints of vacation-like relaxing on beaches in Indonesia…and none can tell what else…   In fact, never before have I edited my list of “needs” so that it could fit into a little green backpack purchased at the local Save & Serve thrift store.  The only other additional packing space will be the front pouch of my banjo case and the gaps inside not already filled by the banjo itself.

It’s a shame I don’t already have the wisdom I’ll surely gain from visiting people in the world who live on less than a backpack-full of things…

It’s a shame I don’t already have the grattitude I hope to gain for owning even one, small coat…

These were my thoughts as I justified stuffing a third skirt into the bottom corner of my already-full bag.  I have been making little adjustments to this backpack all week in this same manner.  One day something will inspire me: fill me with a feeling of freedom from the “burden of owning things,” and I’ll triumphantly toss a skirt or a pair of shorts back onto the storage pile.  Then…moments later I imagine myself getting dressed in the morning, overwhelmed with the boredom I feel towards my over-tired outfits (as was often the case in Ireland.)  Other times I imagine what the world of facebook will think of my scarce outfit options.  For this reason, there are one or two shirts and a bohemian-style skirt that have hopped in and out of my backpack in the last week. (This is a middle-class American expression-junkie kind of problem…. a.k.a… not a real problem…)

How did I get to a place where self-expression means what I wear and what I post on facebook?
Or…how could I have avoided it…

I am an artist at heart.  There are half-finished paintings and closets full of sketch-books to prove it.  I will always care about expressing myself.

A closet-full less of outfits to choose from will not hinder that.

Make this your prayer for me this week: that I may learn to express myself the way Jesus expressed himself: through Love and servant-hood.



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