the fine art of packing

There are people who roll and people who fold, and there are people who throw it all in at the last minute. 

I’m a roller. 

When I pack for a trip, I roll all of my clothes (that I can) for the sake of space. Especially if I’m flying. The benefit is that I did an entire trip to Africa in only a carry on. That’s legendary, in my mind. 

The process of packing is about preparing. Its about taking what you have and storing it away in anticipation of what you will need. Will it be cold? Will it be hot? How long will I be there? Can I put this here and that there given that this may burst open and spill on that? 

What if my luggage gets lost? 
What if we’re stuck there because of weather? 
What if this isn’t enough stuff to get me through? 

Honestly, this is where my thoughts on curiosity have become incredibly focused because too often we say we long for greater faith when faith is more about curiosity than certainty. In other words, we want the kind of faith where we pack everything in the house. Because, you never know…

That’s not faith. That’s spiritual and emotional hoarding. 

The act of packing is a metaphor for the spiritual journey because we walk with luggage. We take things that we need - grace, support, prayer, past experiences and future desires - but we experience the fundamental challenges of being human and alive - scarcity, space, and unexpected events. 

Packing is the act of preparing our hearts for what we know and what we do not know. 

Packing is the act of bringing what we have, even if we supplement it with new items purchased explicitly for that trip, to the table and living on it. 

Packing is the revelation of the pilgrim nature of all of life - we’re constantly moving, becoming, and heading to new places. 

We cannot bring what we do not have - if we long for a story filled with grace, then we must traffic in grace. We start to look at our speech and attitude to see whether grace is our mother tongue, our animating force for decision making. 

If we long for a journey filled with peace, especially in our words and attitudes, then we go to the closet and the drawer and see how much peace we’ve discovered, pursued, and invested our time and energy into. 

Think of it this way: The moments where we’ve taken a deep breath instead of speaking, when we’ve said “Be still and know” (Ps. 46:10) instead of letting the full complement of our impulse spew on that other person, is like an item of clothing. Those moments are taken and put aside, ready to be rolled and packed. 

The meals, media, and moments we set aside when fasting become tokens of strength. We learn we don’t always have to get what we want, and that becomes a significant item on our packing list. The journey through anger, frustration, and unfulfilled expectations always runs through the middle of our desire to have it our own way. 

So what are you rolling up today? What are you placing in the suitcase that you take with you this week? Why? What significant things is God drawing to mind as you look at the contents? 

May God open your eyes to the preparation, and may you commit to the honest hope of journeying on.