Last week I talked to you about how we are all like geese; that by traveling together, we can make more progress and help each other, that we make the most progress in life if we travel together, taking turns in leadership, and lightening the load by flying together, and staying with each other.
Today, I would like to talk a little bit more about how we can continue to travel together and lighten each other’s load.
Albert Einstein once said:
“Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to a divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we do know: That we are here for the sake of others…for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day, I realize how much my outer and inner life is built upon the labors of people, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received and am still receiving.”*
All of us have a lot of emotional and psychological baggage that we carry around with us each day; stuff we inherited from our families and yet more baggage that we have added as we moved through life. The ‘baggage’ may be our own fears, disappointments, anger, prejudices, addictions – things that have been a part of us for so long that we don’t realize how they drag us down and negatively affect us every day.
We need to let go of that baggage so that our life’s journey will be more beautiful and less burdened. An old saying is that if you want to travel fast, travel alone, but if you want to travel far, travel in a community. If you remember from last week, a gaggle of geese can travel 71% further if they are flying together.
And if we want to really enjoy the travel – our life’s journey – we not only should travel in a community, but also take the time to smell the roses, enjoy the view, make new friends, find new loves, and have faith in ourselves.
But traveling together, that is getting involved with and committed to each other, has some risks. We may fear
- that there may not be enough food, or rooms, or beds, or coats, or jobs, or attention for all of us (will there only be enough loaves and fishes to feed 4,999 instead of 5000, as Jesus did in Matthew 14:13-21);
- that those we are traveling with may not like us;
- that we are too fat, or too skinny, or too old, or not pretty or handsome enough;
- that we have different opinions than the others;
- that someone will find out our ‘secrets’ – our hidden past or deepest shame;
- that we do not deserve to join the travelers – we are not ‘worthy’;
- that we will meet someone we trust and love and they will desert us.
All these fears drag us down and keep us from enjoying, not only the journey, but the people who are traveling with us. It’s as if we have a 50-pound knapsack on our backs, bending us down so that all we see is the ground, never the beautiful blue sky with its white fluffy clouds.
When we get rid of our fears we can travel more lightly; we discover that there is indeed enough for all of us, that life is better when we laugh more often, and share one another’s disappointments and joys, and our tears are not so painful when shared. We learn that most people are basically good and want the best for each other; we learn from one another and grow spiritually as we live with shared love, responsibility and involvement with others.
No one has to go it alone; we are all here to pick each other up when we fall, hug each other when we are hurting, prop each other up when we are unsteady, become a community, a village, where everyone is special and loved. . . loved by each other and, more importantly, loved by God.
Jesus did not travel alone; he travelled with a mishmash of farmers and fishermen and tax collectors – a motley crew at best. But those ordinary people were who He chose to carry on His mission. . . ordinary people – just like you and me. And over 2000 years later, His teachings and examples of love still exist in the world.
We are all parts of a greater thing, a piece of a large pie called humanity. Each one of us is a lovely little swatch of colorful cloth that is being woven into a beautiful quilt. We cannot complete the quilt without each and every piece – each swatch makes the quilt more beautiful. We need to travel together.
In a way, In The Garden is a very good examples of this ‘cloth of life’. Each of us who come to In The Garden is an integral part of the community; each one of us contributes the best we have when we come together. We bring our pains and sorrows, our joys and happiness to share with each other. We come with our own thoughts and hopes and fears, but it is hoped that we leave a little better for having been with each other. . . we have been a community traveling on separate, but common journey through life. It is being a member of In The Garden that allows each of us to shed the old ‘stuff’ and move forward, lighter and happier.
So, let us keep traveling together, loving each other, noticing and praising the beauty of the earth, the special and unique needs of each one of us, and supporting one another’s journey. Above and around it all, let us always carry with us the knowledge of the love of God; remembering that through Him we know that we are loved and have everything we need to make our journey.
For did not Jesus tell us:
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:25)
“And why do you worry about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28)
“Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
Thanks be to God that we are His beloved children and He will take care of us.
*Albert Einstein, Living Philosophies
NOTE: inspired by Becca Stevens, Letters from the Farm, Morehouse Publishing, New York, 2015
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 18 October 2015