Lost Luggage

You will forgive me if you are a traveler and have have experienced this story a hundred times; but I am not, and so I share it from the perspective of a newbie, strained in the dilemma of being a “first timer” and all the fresh perspectives it brings.

I recently traveled from my home province to beautiful Nova Scotia for a short stay in wonderful “Wolfville Valley” as I participated in a conference at Acadia University. Although we are pretty experienced travelers, and I have no fear of flying, this was my first solo trip. The event took on a kind of snowball trajectory and I was not super prepared for it. The hubby booked the tickets for me without my consultations, we were unsure about the small details, and the return trip was still not nailed down until the day before I was to leave. This does not bode well for a slightly neurotic rule follower who likes to plan and have all her ducks in a row before undertaking any new task. These facts notwithstanding, I was looking forward to the conference and some alone time with my thoughts.

I strategically packed only carry on luggage to avoid extra costs, and despite his assurances that everything was fine, I made the hubby print out my boarding pass ahead of time. Old school. My emotions were high (see last weeks mid life crisis post) as I said my goodbyes and plodded on through the security lines. I watched as many scanned their electronic boarding passes via their smartphones with all the confidence of world class, techno savvy travelers. Perhaps I will survive my return flight without a solid piece of paper in hand.

The walk to our departure gate was seemingly endless and I struggled to juggle carry on suitcase, bag and old fashion paper work and itineraries, without losing anything on the moving sidewalks (anyone else have a fear of getting something sucked into the end of those things?!) After a marathon trek to the final boarding gate, I plunked down beside two young moms travelling alone with small children and blessed them both, silently, for taking on that challenge!

The staff eventually called that our flight was quite full and that if anyone would like to check your carry on luggage, they would be happy to pop it on the plane at no extra cost. I knew this might happen, and readily took advantage of the call. The moms also packed off their stroller and small child suitcases. I was sure to ask where exactly should we place them? “Just at the door of the plane — next to the stroller.” Okay. Done.

The short flight was uneventful and the slightly smaller airport made baggage collection easy to find. Colourful boxes and bags poured out and around the carousel, until the only ones left were those of us who had checked our bags at the gate! The young mom got her stroller…but no carry on sized luggage had arrived! Great. No big deal though… make a claim, lots of flights in from the big city today… should have your stuff by this evening… they will deliver to front desk, call when it arrives… okay, okay… I can do this. Happens all the time, I have a number to call, a printed receipt even…

The day goes by. No luggage. The evening goes by. No luggage. I call the toll free number. Not yet. I begin to slightly panic. I will have to sit through lectures with no deodorant! I will not have brushed my teeth. I will have to sleep naked! Oh, The horror!

Anxiety: Being consumed by the uncertainties of the Future. But God says: Let Tomorrow worry about itself!

Eventually my small suitcase arrived in a very reasonable time frame, all things considered. And despite my panic and fear of overwhelming body odor, no one seemed to bat an eye, or flinch a nostril. Life goes on. I survived.

As I sat on the flight home (with my carry on safely stowed above my head in the compartment above!) I marveled and mused about the whole idea of anxiety. Those who fear flying, those who struggle with phobias, those who are crippled by the very definition of the word anxiety: being consumed by the uncertainties of the future. I get it. I often feel it. I easily get overwhelmed with the unknowns, the what ifs, the lack of control.

Realistically, this is the big make up of our anxiety isn’t it? That lack of control. If we can’t fix it and be in charge, then who will? As a Jesus follower, I am squarely confronted with the fact that He is in control. God almighty is the only one who knows the future. Every other world view puts our destinies in our own hands. The end of Matthew 6 reminds us that the future will contain trouble, but it’s not my job to worry about it. Tomorrow will worry about itself. The lilies sleep naked all the time — and are all the more beautiful for it. I’m learning -slowly- to not fret at my lack of control. To try and move on and learn and grow. I even scanned my phone generated boarding pass on the way home! Small steps, my friends, small steps.

How Much is Too Much? Learning to Live a More Balanced Life

Finally! The weather and my work schedule has co-operated enough to allow me some clean up time at the house! I am afraid that it is only a “lick and a promise” though (as my mom would say). The bathrooms are clean and I’ve wiped all the counters, but I really would like to get in deep and give all the rooms a good make over. I am beginning to look around and say “wow…we have a lot of “stuff”!” As I try to live a little more “green”, I am beginning to see just how much we have accumulated over the years. We have been blessed enough to be able to buy what we want… and we have. I have a lot of high hopes for things… projects and crafts I want to tackle, furniture I want to refinish, new things I want to learn, and often I can’t say no to a great deal at the thrift store! Time and energy simply get the better of me and my best laid plans get pushed aside to the back of the basement… again. I sound like those hoarders on the documentaries… I wanted to, but just didn’t. Then somehow the piles begin to take over.

The truth is, most of our society has become this way hasn’t it? We always are dreaming bigger, wanting more, and pushing the limits. Even the minimalists are driving forward with their agenda of quality not quantity. My friend describes it as the “new piety”. If I live this way with these things, then you should too…and if you don’t, then you are doing it wrong. If this lifestyle, or this diet, or this gadget, or this, or that, is the way I like, then it must be the best for everyone. And so we must accept it. But how much is too much? Somewhere along the line we have lost balance. Myself included.

I tend to be an all or nothing kinda gal… ask my friends… I love a good project. A task that I can focus all my attention on. Therein lies the problem, though… it takes all my attention. The rest of the world begins to fall down all around me but my blinders prevent me from seeing it. I think I’m not the only one with such tunnel vision, though. So much of our world is “micro-managed” with minority groups driving home very specific opinions on very specific topics. Even our careers and educational paths have taken on this micro vision. Health care, too, has become so finite. We see one specialist for one problem and then have to see three others for the side effects. It can be a little frustrating. We become “specialists”– but masters of nothing.

Photo from link below

We recently saw a film called “The Biggest Little Farm“… a documentary that followed a Californian couple who gave up their city life to try their hand at a new wave of farming. (I think the hubby suggested it to tame my want for chickens…which didn’t work, but I digress). Under capable (yet slightly radical) mentorship, they decided to diversify their farm. They planted a variety of fruit trees instead of one crop, and varied their livestock to share in the load. The idea was balance. Their mentor assured them, that in time, the land itself would balance out, that their farm would flourish with the ebb and flow of predator and prey and nutrient renewal. Science tells us this is true, yet, I couldn’t help but muse how spiritual the message was. We are just finishing a study of the gospel of Mark in our small group. It’s fascinating to me how the gospels show us this idea of Jesus’ perfect balance between a focused plan and the bigger picture.

Christ, the messiah, knew He was coming to earth to fulfill a very specific purpose. He had a goal. A set task. Yet in the height of His ministry he still was conscious that He needed to take time aside for self care, reflection and prayer. He healed many, yet not all. He planned for the future, but often didn’t know where He would sleep at night. He had no means of salary, but never seemed to go hungry. He surrounded Himself with both women and men, with rich and poor, with educated and outcasts. There was no false piety, there was simply a message. Jesus didn’t promise that His way was the easiest, either. Being a Jesus follower did not guarantee the easy road, nor does it now. But it does bring profound hope.

I think, it is this hope that we are all struggling to fill with our stuff, our visions, our drive for the ultimate. We want our futures to be sealed with security. I too, struggle with the future unknown. I’m always looking for something new… “just in case”. That’s the delight of the faith journey though… it’s a journey. A continual path to Heaven that starts when we take the first step out in faith. It then becomes a winding path of checks and balances, but ever encompasses that Hope that guides us onward. So how much is too much? When we become so blinded by all the stuff that we can’t see the forest for the trees. When we begin to lose hope because we have not taken the time to get back on the right path, or the path is blocked by a narrowly focused tunnel. We need a little mix of all to keep the balance. I’m not there yet, either, but learning… anyone need some glass jars? I think I have too many…

I Challenge You!

Finally had a little break from the busy work schedule of last week! I escaped North to visit the oldest beloved. It means I will have lots of work to do when I get back home, so it may not really be too much of a break, but for now, I am relishing the quiet. An introvert needs her time to recoup, you know!

Today, we worshiped at her church… a younger crowd of Jesus followers meeting together to praise the Lord with a little more flash and flourish than I am used to, but a great Bible based message was given, and I am thankful she has found a place where her faith can continue to grow away from home. The pastor’s sermons are relevant connections to the group living there, intended for their special circumstances and neighbourhood. It is different from ours at home… and that is okay. Which got me thinking about an activity I saw in a classroom about a month ago.

The teacher had a bulletin board displayed with challenges that the students made up for their peers to attempt. Simple things like “write a poem like me”, or “play the game I made for you to try” or “make up a cool emoji to use to describe your feelings”. My understanding is, that it was an exercise to create some student choice, as well as an activity that allowed the students to interact and learn from their peers. I thought it was quite a noble concept for public school — and got me thinking about the world as a whole.

I have many friends who have chosen to home school their children. Others who choose to send their children to private or religion based schools. When our eldest was born, we explored various options as well — even considering Montessori learning. As parents, we want the best education possible for our kids. We also want our values and culture to be relevant and present in the lives of our beloveds as well. For many of us, this includes our faith. Especially at a stage where their development is so poignant to their future lives. Let’s face it – whatever we have exposure to when we are young, we tend to use as part of our future lives also.

But let’s get back to trying to condense my muse into something more concrete. I guess what I am trying to say, is that no matter what our background, no matter what our culture, no matter where we grew up, or what kind of life we have led, we come to the cross on the same level. Yet — we need to learn from — and be challenged by — our fellow humans. Our peers. Different cultures. Different methods of learning. Different methods of worship. To use our five senses in worship, thus allowing our faith to grow in whole body, soul, mind and spirit. Fellow students of Biblical learning, challenging one another in love, to go beyond what we know, to sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron. It’s a Biblical concept that instructs us to learn from each other, to meet together to fellowship, to share ideas and grow in our relationships. It’s part of who God made us to be. The Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’s day knew the law — but Jesus was always challenging them to live out what they learned… with grace and love.

I will be the first to admit that this is not easy for me. I am quick to be negative. I am quick to criticize this or that as not a “proper” method of worship. I, too, have my own biases and preferences. Therefore, I too, must do my research and discover if something is simply tradition, or is it a biblical practice? Can I learn from my peers and be challenged to try something different? Do I choose to hide from the “grey areas” of the faith world and not engage in discussions about difficult topics? Can I learn from someone else’s background? Or worse, will it strengthen my children’s faith by allowing them to be exposed to hard questions? To be confronted by their friends? Or do I hide and protect them from it all? It’s not an easy answer. Are you up for the challenge? I’d love to hear from you! In what ways have you been called to give an answer by others? Has it been easy or hard? Share in the comments!