As meditation, I sat down to write. I needed to clear my mind and heart, to declutter. To make room for more. So as prayer, I opened my bag and emptied it’s contents to list what I carry with me. I share my prayer below:
My bare feet, slipped out from flip-flops, rest on my gray bag. They feel its uneven bulkiness, and the sailcloth it is made out of as I store it underneath the seat in front of me. I look out the window as the plane departs, leaving my red earthen roads of Santa Fe behind.
Healing Center, where I faithfully went week after week to get my hair to grow back after I lost it post babies, to no avail; a letter of praise from Bob Gilsdorf about the Sisters’ Blog. Inside it houses two rubbery play watches for my older boys from their cousin’s birthday; a boys winter cap, pair of boys underwear, a pair of boys socks; bark ‘n boot liners for my dog, Henry, who after trail running post snow cut up his paws in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, bad enough to warrant a trip to the vet. An eyeglass case, trail mix, and a no longer usable cell phone that is now for play. My pocketbook filled with no-longer-needed receipts, my Minnesota driver’s license, my one credit card and one bank card, I don’t like having more than one, and grateful to be able to have one; my library cards and the boys, as well as my insurance card and the boys; vitamin e stick for my lips, and gloss for when I need some shimmer on. Keys to the car in, the rental home in Minnesota and our rental in Santa Fe.
I have not cleaned my bag out since the changing of winter to spring. It is now summer. I still carry the lotion my mom
bequeathed to Finn for his ever so chapped hands when she visited in February. I thought his extreme skin was from an onset of OCD and fear of germs, turned out the dryness of the desert had more to do with their redness, their scales, their roughness on such youth. As I dug in the crevice of my bag’s corners, where secrets might be kept, I unearth a small wooden block with a bell in it that Kieran clutched too when the snow began to melt and accidentally took with him to the Santa Fe Children’s Museum. For Buddhists a sound of a bell brings the wisdom of emptiness. My bag could use such wisdom.
Scattered throughout the bottom of the bag like seeds are the pieces to a small puzzle of an elephant given to Finn in his Easter basket, waiting to bloom. Two ziplock baggies, one filled with another vitamin e stick and a not needed hair holder; the other with two hand sanitizers and lollipops–remnants of past flights. A charger for my ear piece that no longer works, and a prize toy from St. Vincent when we went as a family to get a blood work panel done for Celiac testing. I carry these memories of place waiting to be ordered, sifted, sorted. The block needs to go back with the other blocks, the clothes need to find their drawers, and papers await to be recycled into something new. The bag recycled into something lighter, my mind into something emptier.
As I reflect on this list. What happens to those many families and people who do not have just-in-cases? How does what I carry prohibit me from being closer to those who suffer? Who need my friendship and I theirs? How does what I carry keep me from integrating the preferential option for the poor? How does what I carry give me hope? The wise St. Francis de Sales says, “It is not necessary always to feel strong. It is sufficient to have hope that we will be strong enough at the proper time and place.” And, so I look on myself and all I carry with compassionate hope.
What do you carry? What does it reveal about your life? Your patterns? Your desires? What do you need to let go of to make
room for what you need to receive? A bag is like a nest, it holds what connects us to life, to ourselves in a moment in time. Like the nest that cradled the baby wren’s, which was knocked down only to provide a valuable lesson on the sanctity of life.
Visitation Monastery North Minneapolis wrote on July 16 at 8:10 pm: Story-kids dumping wren house continues. 4 baby birds left to be rescued by nuns -unsuccessfully. MP responded on FB giving title, “The Dead Bird.” I got it and waited for the opportunity to get the children over to read. Happened tonight! 5 children came, ages 3-11. As I read, only a few guilty glances gave them away.… They got the point, without having to lie or admit, just as I had hoped. God’s creatures matter
Sometimes a bag anchors us, providing a base from which to fly. Other times it needs to be emptied in order to be filled with life to travel the roads we need to go.
Please click on the comments section below to read what the Sisters carry with them when they join the Monastery. We invite you to share your own meditation on the contents of your bag and what you carry in the comments section.
For further prayer, meditatively read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, about his time as a soldier in Vietnam.