While I was packing for a trip recently, I was reminded of a riff on “stuff” from the comedian George Carlin that I had heard years ago. He was talking about how, without even realizing it, we manage to collect all kinds of “stuff” around us in our homes. Then when we are going on vacation, we have to choose from all that stuff, the stuff we want/need to take with us. Then if on our vacation we take a side trip for a day or two, we look over our stuff and choose again what we think we really need. He ended by wondering if maybe the stuff we need for a day is really all that we need.
I’m preparing to be gone from home for six weeks, 30 days of them making the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. The other time will be spent in auto travel and in vacationing. Up to now my trips have usually been short, two weeks at the most, and I could fit my “stuff” into a carryon and a small overnighter. This time, though, especially since we are driving rather than flying, and since the length of time is so much greater, I am having difficulty deciding which of my creature comforts I’m going to take with me. Trying to keep George Carlin’s question in mind, I’m kind of sorting things into three categories: must-haves, “nice but are they really necessary?” things and, finally, all the rest of the stuff that has found its way onto the pile.
A 30-day retreat is about letting go of or becoming detached from anything that would get in the way of God working in me; so when it comes down to it, how much stuff, how many familiar creature comforts I take with me is probably not really the issue. Rather it is the “stuff” that I’ve accumulated in my heart and spirit that needs the sorting out. Perhaps this process of packing is a way to do some prep work for the coming weeks. What is it that I really need? O, God, help me continue to discover that you are all in all; you are all that I need and really want.
– Blog entry by Sister Joyce Lehman