Pilgrim’s Progress, is a religious allegory ( a story that reveals a hidden meaning) by the English writer John Bunyan, first published in 1678. The work is a symbolic vision of the good man’s pilgrimage through life. ….. one of perseverance in the Christian faith. The main character, Christian, learned to travel light and not be distracted by the things of this world.
My son Jon and grandson Ben recently joined others for a camping trip thru the Appalachian mountains sponsored by Kairos, the Youth Program for our community. It’s a pretty rigorous trip. As part of the preparation, they take great care to only bring the essentials needed for the trip. Whatever they bring, they will carry on their back for the entire trip. It’s a great lesson in traveling light.
It reminds me of a trip I took many years ago to a conference in France. I traveled with a good friend who arrived at the airport with his backpack and a small bag. For my part, I arrived with a gigantic suitcase with tiny squeaky wheels. ( I had cleverly gotten it at a garage sale for a very low price… hmmm.) As we travelled thru Paris … in and out of buses and trains with a lot of walking… you could hear me coming from afar with ”squeak, squeak, squeak……” it weighed a ton. Several times I was tempted to chuck it in the Seine River. Another great lesson in traveling light.
Traveling light is not just a principle that should guide our earthly travel, but is a good lesson for the spiritual life. We may remember Jesus’s words in the gospel of Matthew: (Mt.6:19-33)
- “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth….for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
- “Go sell what you have and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven…then come, follow me.
- “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other….you cannot serve God and mammon.
- “Do not be anxious about “stuff”…. but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
There’s many lessons in these passages… love of mammon can corrupt so be very careful …. take care of the poor with your resources ….. don’t let riches distract you from the highest call of seeking first the kingdom of God and eternal treasure. ( A postscript from Ecclesiastes, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money; nor he who loves wealth, with gain.” (Ecclesiastes 5:10))
In many ways, the Lord is calling us to travel light. Use our excess to serve others and not be incumbered with its weight which can bog us down.
And remember that it’s a lot more relaxing traveling through life with a simple back pack than a huge suitcase with squeaky wheels.