Check your luggage

This article was broadcast as a Thought for the Day on BBC Radio Ulster on Friday 1st January 2016 and is  adapted and used with permission.

While we slept last night and without any assistance from us the earth rotated and a new day is about to dawn and who knows where we might travel, what may happen to us or where we might end up before the year is out.

We might consider what we are taking on the journey and what we are leaving behind. Is it not interesting how some of our traditional practices have changed over time? One of the most obvious ones is how we now travel with much less luggage.

Thanks to the policies of airlines we have changed our behaviour.  Instead of checking in suitcases, we now mostly travel with hand luggage. Which means we now have harder choices to make about what to take and what to leave behind.  Perhaps the same is true concerning what we carry in our minds and our hearts.

Since the heart is that emotional part of us about what we feel —and the mind is about what we think; —- what values, — inspirations, — memories and convictions are we carrying in the luggage of our hearts and minds which will be useful and what is best left behind?

We live in one of the richest countries on the planet and most of us are among the most privileged people who have ever lived, so we might pack some gratitude and generosity and leave complaining and selfishness behind.

But what of the painful hurts, — disappointments, — criticisms, —- griefs and insults which seem to cling to us and weigh us down; how about deciding to leave much of that behind as well?

Arguably all of us have experienced mercy and forgiveness, should we not carry the memory of that generosity with us and ourselves be merciful and live at peace with our fellow passengers on the earth.

We have stepped into 2016 … a year when we will be given to much remembering; of events around the Easter political rising and the carnage of the Somme; things that might have been better had they never happened; maybe we can remember heroism and leave aside the big sticks with which we love to beat up people. There is no room in hand luggage for big sticks.

The Easter Rising which dominated Paul’s thinking was the Resurrection of Jesus, in the light of which he encouraged his readers and friends  to rejoice; to be thankful and to pack their minds  with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true,—  noble, — right, — pure, — lovely, and honourable.

So may we travel light and pack the useful things and leave behind what is debilitating and excess to requirements …..

and may the peace of God stand guard over our hearts and what we feel and over our minds and what we think.

John Dunlop.

Rev Dr John Dunlop is a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.    


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