GPS for the Soul Week 2
Week 2 Reflection:
I am currently taking a French translation class at Vanderbilt, and this week I came across a marvelous word, “trouvaille,” which roughly translated means to stumble into something wonderful or unexpected on a journey. This shall be our mission for Lent!
In the synoptic gospels, Jesus gives his disciples’ some travel advice: pack light for the journey. “Take no gold or silver, or copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, not two tunics, or sandals, or a staff.
I have few talents, but one I have developed as a mother of 6 is “master packer.” I can literally pack six kids and two adults for a two-week trip across the globe in six carry-ons (true story!) On the journey with Jesus he isn’t just talking about physical baggage, but all the invisible things we carry around with us that weigh us down. He beckons us to lighten the internal load we carry in secret.
Scott Gunther is David’s cousin, more famously he is the Head of Teton Mountain and Rescue in Jackson Hole, Wyoming—a living legend and local hero. People in trouble meet Scott hanging from a helicopter at 10,000 feet when he comes to rescue them off a treacherous peak. I have watched many a video of Scott’s miraculous feats. One night over dinner Scott shared one of his most harrowing rescues. There was a massive lightning storm which came up quickly over the Grand Teton. Several people were shocked and burned clinging to the face of the mountain. The weather conditions were unsafe to fly so Scott made the executive decision for his team to rescue the party on foot. Normally reaching the peak of the Grand takes advanced hikers 5 plus hours. Scott did it in half the time and saved several lives that day. When I asked him his secret, he said, “I travel with a light pack.”
I might pack light for trips, but don’t be fooled because like most, I’ve been known to lug in secret an invisible backpack through life full of unresolved hurts, fears that not only rob me of joy but slow my spiritual gait. Last night I read to the kids from Charles Mackesy’s beautiful book, The Boy, the mole the fox and the Horse, and I came across this truism: “Isn’t it odd,” said the Mole to the Boy, “We can only see the outsides, but nearly everything happens on the inside.”
Jesus knew the burdens of every soul. In his miracles we see that Jesus first addresses the pains of the human heart, then he heals the external. His mission was to set people free so they could live abundantly and then help others to do the same.
We all carry around some unnecessary invisible weight. Hurt, anger, disappointment, fear, bitterness, resentment, shame, worry, and despair are not only dangerously heavy but take up space meant for creativity, peace, and fun. What I can tell you from my own experience is that when a worry or fear or hurt starts to play like a broken record in my head, and no other music in my life can breakthrough, it’s not healthy and needs to be dealt with. I wonder how many surprises of joy I’ve missed because I couldn’t reconcile my interior life and let go of what no longer served me, even hurt me!
The more we love and dare to participate in this brutal but beautiful world, the greater the chance we accumulate weight in our interior backpacks. The spiritual work is deciphering what is healthy and what we must discard to reach our next peak. We are not the mythic Atlas, cursed to carry the whole world on our shoulders. Jesus offers to carry some of the weight. I might add Jesus also advises that worrying will not add a single hour to one’s lifespan. It all comes down to trust. Do we trust God with the intimacies of our hearts?
I take great consolation knowing that Jesus felt every single emotion I have. He knew loss, the disappointment of friends and family, physical and emotional pain, genuine fear, sadness, and spiritual doubt. He also knew the importance of his mission and how short his time (and our time) is on earth. He cultivated holy inner peace so those whom he loved and met for the first time received the best of him. Another truism: unhappy people on the inside make others unhappy.
Jesus regularly stepped away from the loud, frenetic, and unmerciful world to find his peace. He retreated to nature to still himself, to rest, to find perspective. He also relied heavily on prayer. He regularly unburdened his heart to God.
Recently, I sat down with one of my daughters, and together we made a pencil and paper sketch of everything she was carrying heavily on her heart. Some, we problem-solved as a team, others we turned over to God in prayer. It’s amazing how much lighter we feel in spirit when our burdens are shared.
A funny friend of my mom’s told me once that she had turned over the same worry to God sixty times. The problem was she had taken it right back 59 of the times. I share this story because freeing the soul requires self-awareness and effort. The angst may travel back and forth from your heart to God’s an infinite number of times before you finally release it into God’s care and embrace God’s peace in its place.
The spiritual work for those first disciples and for us today is to figure out how, like Ranger Scott, we travel with a light pack. This week pick one worry, fear, or hurt and let it go. At least start the process of reconciling it. If anything, pray it out so it begins to loosen its hold on you. The goal is a lightness of being.
Week 2 Prayer:
I gift you with a prayer by St. Teresa to support you as you make your way this week.
Let nothing disturb you.
Let nothing frighten you
All things are passing
God never changes
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.