8 Aug

Hello from Charleston, NC. I am here to perform a wedding for a friend’s daughter and it is HOT. I have packed ‘heavy’, so I have my laptop and my devotional book, and book I have been meaning to read.

It is interesting that today’s reading from Joan Chittister’s commentary on the Rule of Benedict lands on possessions. The monks were never to own anything privately and even gifts given to the could not be accepted without the Abbot’s or Prioress’s permission. In this time of bulging closets this seems like crazy talk. However, Benedict is endeavoring to create an environment that give life to our spirit, not our bodies, or pride.

How much lighter our lives would be without all the heavy baggage we carry around. Having said this, let me say how much I have enjoyed shopping in Charleston. I think it is a matter of attitude. Perhaps it is as simple as separating our needs from our wants. Everything I have acquired so far on this trip I could have done without, but I have enjoyed finding a great sale and an item I will use well. AND, have been so very grateful for the of buying a treat for myself. Maybe my baggage is heavier, but I try to keep my heart light.

So, the place where all of this intersects for me is in also reading, The Return of The Prodigal Son:A Story of Homecoming by Henri Nouwen, which was written four years before his death in 1996. Just reading the prologue about Nouwen leaving the life of a Harvard professor to go and carry for a community of mentally challenged adults has been helpful for me. But the book really focuses on the painting of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. It is a painting which captured Nouwen’s heart and mind.

The opening chapter of the book describes the early life of Rembrandt which was weighted down by arrogance and indulgences. Yet, throughout his life he experienced the deaths of his children and wife and finally was bankrupt. Nouwen describes Rembrandt’s paintings which document the changes in his life. The bright light of success and decadence which illuminated his outer world transitions to an inner light of humility and wisdom.

I feel as though I have been rambling during this blog. Maybe it is the effect of a freer schedule. Yet, what I want to say, what I think I always say, it to spend your heart, your mind, your time, your money on that which is life giving, that which is of God. Know that the baggage that you carry can be no weight at all if you give it to the Divine with a joyful heart.

I find there is not end to counting my blessings. I pray you find blessings in your life today.



One Response to “Baggage”

  1. Phyllis Terwilliger August 11, 2014 at 10:48 am #


    I hope you had a wonderful time officiating at the wedding and exploring Charleston; it’s a beautiful place. The Henri Nouwen book sounds amazing. I have not read nor heard of that particular book. Thanks for your thoughts and always calling us to a closer relationship with the Almighty God!

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