Travelling Light: Life, Journey and the Cross

by Klearchos Kapoutsis from Creative Commons

by Klearchos Kapoutsis from Creative Commons

This blog was written by John Collins on the National Office for Evangelisation’s Blog
OCTOBER 1, 2013

Over the last 30 years or so there has been something of a revolution with regard to air travel. It was once the case that only wealthy people boarded a commercial airline. It seems now that while not universal, many more people have access to air travel than was once the case. The main cause of the change in behaviour has of course been the drop in airfare prices and the emergence of cut-price airlines. As anyone who has booked a ticket on a cut-price airline knows while the base ticket may be cheap there are extra charges for everything with checked baggage attracting the most attention. For me, one of the spin-offs in this method of ticketing is that progressively I have learnt to travel light.

While it sounds a little counter-intuitive my sense is that it actually takes longer to pack a carry-on bag than it is to pack a large case that would need to be checked-in. The time is not so much in placing stuff in various compartments. The real work is in thinking about what I actually need to take, consistent with the purpose of my trip and my destination. What I may need for three days in Brisbane for work may be quite different to what I will need for a week-end break in Melbourne. Going to Brisbane on Qantas I may have books, a computer and I may need a suit or a smart jacket, so I check my bag. A weekend trip to Melbourne on Tigerair by contrast calls for a toothbrush, minimal clothes, an umbrella and a light but warm sweater; all packed into a carry-on bag.

The ideas of preparation, travelling light, baggage, purpose and destination can, of course all be applied as images appropriate for thinking about our life-journey. It is to this topic we now turn.

The film “The Way” starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son Emilo Estevez charts the story of four pilgrims walking the Camino to the shine of St James in Santiago in Spain. All four pilgrims are travelling in the same direction but each has their own reason for walking and each of them carries his or her own backpack and metaphorical baggage. It is a long walk so travelling light is important. Along the way the four pilgrims meet other travellers but one of the fruits of the journey is the forging of a strong bond of friendship between them.

Perhaps the first lesson in learning to travel light through life is to realise that life is not a solo journey. The word companion means to break bread with so sharing meals on the journey is vital. It is not difficult to see the central sacrament of Catholicism, the Eucharist, as giving shape to this most human of activities; sharing a meal.

As the film develops the back stories of our four pilgrims begin to emerge and we get something of an insight as to their purpose in setting out on pilgrimage. If you have not seen “The Way” it is well worth viewing.

Each of us walks our own unique life-journey. Selecting our destination, clarifying our purpose and choosing our travelling companions are all vital. Choosing what to pack and what to leave behind is also of utmost importance. We cannot live without carrying some luggage and because each person has to walk their own journey we have to take up the task of carrying our own load.

At times all of us are overwhelmed by the immensity and complexity of our life-journey. As we journey and particularly when we feel overburdened we do well to remember the promise that Jesus made to his followers:

Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light. Mt.11:28-30

While our life-journey is personal and unique in fact we are not alone. We do have someone to assist us in making sense of suffering; one who will carry our baggage as we carry his cross. Each one of us needs to spend some time to prepare for the portion of our journey we will cover today. Each one of us needs to think about what we want to keep carrying and what we want to leave behind. Each one of us needs to regularly evaluate our purpose in travelling in the light of our ultimate destination. Each one of us needs companions on the journey so it is important that in this area we choose wisely.

Ever- present also is the invitation to swap your baggage for the cross of Christ. If you make the swap you will find clarity in purpose and direction, rest for your soul and you will experience your life-burden as light.

John Francis Collins

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