MARYVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 4, 2016) -- My blank 2017 calendar is already filling up! I have such high hopes of managing my time, my life in new ways. No New Year’s resolutions for me. I am just trying to resolve to do it a little differently.
Cheryl Thompson and I spent the last days in the office of 2016 cleaning up. We threw away paper, paper, paper. I went through boxes belonging to an old friend who died this past year. I am trying to go through my own files.
I have a hard time parting with some things, which is a little strange for a person who likes to backpack. Traveling light is the name of that game. I know some buddies who have drilled holes in their toothbrush handles just to get rid of a few ounces. Loren Eisley wrote in one of his essays about a tribe in the Kalahari that only existed on the 35 pounds they could carry on their backs. Jesus told the disciples to start out with no money, no bag for the journey, nor two tunics, sandals or even a staff! (By the way, I pretty much always take a staff. It keeps me balanced.)
I received a thank-you note from a participant in the Strength for the Journey retreat. It had a card in it with this advice: “Never buy a car you can’t push." In other words, go for the lighter car.
The trail up Springer Mountain in Georgia, leading to the beginning of the Appalachian Trail, is always littered with stuff. It is all the equipment of people who start on the journey and quickly figure out what is not necessary, not important, not needed. They figure out how to lighten the load.
I am trying to go into 2017 with a little less. I am not very good at letting go or leaving things behind. Rev. Dan Moore said that the wildfires in Gatlinburg had helped him to reassess what stuff is important. He talked about the cleansing by fire that had occurred in his own life. These words have inspired and haunted me.
The Psalmist reminds me in whom to put my trust. I like things that I have had a long time. The familiar is a comfort to me. As my surroundings have changed over the years, I have clung to my stuff. It comforts me.
This year I am working on where true comfort resides:
I lift up my eyes to the hills —
From where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
Grace and Peace in a Newer and Lighter Year,
The Rev. Charles Maynard is an author, storyteller, and Holston Conference’s Maryville District superintendent. This column originally appeared in the January edition of the Maryville District newsletter and is reprinted with permission.