Annie Dillard’s essay called “An Expedition to the Pole” is about explorers who didn’t actually make it to the South Pole. When they exhumed their skeletons, researchers discovered that a number of these ill-fated pioneers were carrying things that didn’t serve them well at all—things like settings of sterling silver flatware tucked into their coats. Apparently they were willing to brave the brutal cold of the Antarctic, but could not imagine leaving behind the elegant, weighty trappings of luxury. They continued to clutch their polished silverware even as they ran out of food to eat with it.
I love that story and I hate that story. There are parts of my personal life I’m afraid it applies to, and parts of the Church’s life I’m pretty sure it applies to. What are the things we might need to let go of if we want to be lighter, more ready to move in the directions we want to go?
I’m reminded of the story from the Gospel of Mark (Chapter 10) in which a rich young man comes to Jesus and asks about how to get eternal life. “You know the commandments,” Jesus says, and immediately the young man says, “You’re right; I do. And I’ve kept all of them. But surely there must be something else?” That sounds to me like a pretty cheeky answer, but Mark says, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing. Go, sell what you own and give the money away….then come, follow me.’”
Maybe the one thing Jesus saw this young man lacking was freedom. Maybe the things he was holding onto (including his pride!) had gotten heavier than he realized. Maybe Jesus’ invitation to him was to lighten his load, and he just couldn’t let go, even when the things he carried had stopped serving him well.
Maybe moving into new territory requires us to travel light. I’m really grateful for the hard work you all have done around Campbell UMC, long before I got here, to get us ready to move faithfully, intentionally, lightly, into new ways of being the Church.
Glad to be walking alongside of you–Kathi