Sunday, July 15, 2007

"Traveling Light" - Chapter One

Welcome to our summer book blog!

Chapter One, The Luggage of Life, added a mirror to my luggage. I was looking right at myself as I read.

I’ve been grappling with the wisdom of a former colleague who said, “The Priest is at the altar, not on the altar.” I tend to take on all kinds of responsibilities as though I have more to offer than did Jesus on the cross. Archbishop Oscar Romero (who was worthy to become a martyr) had the humility to say, “We are the messengers, not the Messiah.”

So, lately I’ve been confessing that I carry around the luggage of self-appointed Messiah. I recognize that this has been piling up since childhood. My older brother died, and I spent my life trying to carry my parents’ crushing load of grief. I’ve tried and tried to fix/save/make nice every situation for everybody. Perfect clergy breeding program, huh?

But to return to Lucado imagery: I lug a trunk full of self-justification. I keep a carry-on bag of fear (trying to be perfect keeps one in perpetual fear of failure). I must have at least a case of snake-oil – after all, if I think I can “save” the world better than Jesus, I am a supreme snake-oil salesman (kinda like TEC’s Presiding Bishop with her “more gracious strand” ideas, but I digress).

And I recognize that I carry a pretty big cosmetics case. I have been trying to polish up and make-over The Episcopal Church for some time. Trying to mike nice and presentable what is really ugly and shameful.

Psalm 23, on which Lucado builds the book, is all about God bringing the necessary stuff. God sets the table. Jesus gives his body and blood. I need to stop acting as though I can do better.

Looking forward to what you are getting out of the book! Will post about Ch. 2 on Wednesday.

6 comments:

Denny & Irene said...

For a short chapter, this book packs quite a punch! Like many men, I feel that I should do as much as I can (I grew up with the adage that "God helps those who help themselves".) I almost feel guilty and unworthy to pray to God for my own needs, so I pray for safety and wellness for family and friends.

Mostly I thank God for what he has provided to me and mine.

Chapter 1 is something I need to study further.

Denny

The impact of baggage on people themselves.or on those close to them is perpetual. The damage, missunderstanding, and pain is passed down generation to generation. Most people don't see the trap or know how to free themselves from it.

Chapter 1 offers a map for finding a way out, and a way to live life free(r) of baggage. Unfortunately, your baggage is often who you are.

Irene

Alice C. Linsley said...

I hope to make more time so that in the future I can join in this book discussion. This is a terrific idea!

BTW, The new mast head is lovely and evocative.

Scott said...

When I picked up the book, I thought: "Oh no...Psalm 23". The one Psalm I thought I (forgive me Lord) had grown tired of hearing. The one Psalm that I thought had become a worn-out funeral reading!

Made it through the introduction and the first two chapters in a very short time yesterday. What a surprise!

Yes, I am carrying a lot of luggage. Some days, it seems more like big steamer trunks full of guilt, and a little sadness. A lot of my luggage is related to the impatience I have with people.

I know this is one of my short-comings, and thus guilt. I often have impatience with my special-needs brother; impatience with colleagues; impatience with the church and its lack of what I consider proper leadership; impatience that others don't always see it MY way...or have my same priorities - which is selfish too.

I was also reminded of luggage of the past that I have been able to leave behind - and how "liberating" it can feel to leave it: A big career change, and the feelings I had about wasting years of education, giving up on the idealistic thoughts of public service, etc.

I am finding new life in Psalm 23, and only after 17 pages. I'm beginning to understand why this Psalm is so special to so many.

If any of you reading this think you are too behind to join us...please pick up the book. It is a very easy read, humorous, and you'll catch up quickly.

If you can't get the book, feel free to read our comments AND make some comments of your own anyway!

The Lord is indeed my shepherd.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Luggage" is a much easier term to work with than 'things that happened in my past' or 'people who really %^&)()%'d up my life'.

Luggage is MY stuff, what I choose to carry rather than things others did or said, or sad and scary experiences.

My extra piece of luggage is pink, small and very heavy and belongs to me from age 9. It is that of a little girl who lost her father and then lost her way. I might as well have been an orphan, or worse, because I lived with no love, but surrounded by hostility.

I am learning not to identify or react to others as that 9 year-old. I'm not too little to defend myself and haven't had to live "at home" since I was 17. For a smart kid, I was full of fear.

I no longer need to carry that child's luggage, full of fear of others, fear of death, full of preparedness to fight.

The bag is so full of vigilance and is so heavy, and I have carried it for so long, that I cannot hand the entire thing to God. The next best thing? Open it, take something (or a few things) out at a time, and give them to God.

The bag is really cute, though, I'll try to keep the humor and optimism and most of all, faith inside and I can carry it with one finger, or fold it up and put it in my pocket.

Friendly Lady in the Black Office Chair

July 17, 2007 8:00 AM

Northern Plains Anglicans said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Northern Plains Anglicans said...

Wow! Some very brave and honest posts from a variety of perspectives. Sometimes, in sharing these things, we minister to people in unexpected ways. People might read your posts and find God's presence via your words - even via your wounds.

Always remember who God is when it comes to making changes:

For thou desirest no sacrifice, else would I give it thee; * but thou delightest not in burnt-offerings. The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: * a broken and contrite heart, O God, shalt thou not despise.
Psalm 51