Who’s Dealing With the Luggage?

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

It’s early morning, we’re in the middle of Holy Week, patiently awaiting Easter, not standing in the full light just yet, but full of trust in our Lenten work. If I were being honest I would admit mine was an epic fail, but I’m hopeful because I believe the roots of new life often lie in the decay of that which we hold onto, hoard really, stuff we’re trying to unload, and by the way we can’t do it alone.

When entering the epic Easter story, where death precariously hangs a few scant inches over our heads (Craig Lounsbrough), having been methodically placed there one piece at a time by a lifetime of choices. The reality is until we understand the gravity of what hangs but a breath away, we will not understand why Jesus hung on a cross to sweep it all away. Praise be to God.

Larry says to me, as I’m sipping my coffee, and enjoying the prospects of a day without prospects, “I’ve read about this before, it happens all the time.”

“Honey, I might need a little more information if I am to agree, or not?”

He glances at me over the rim of his rather feminine-looking reading glasses (I believe they are an old pair of mine), balanced at the end of his generous nose, as if he just noticed I was in the room, but he fails to fully register my presence, and promptly returns to the article he’s browsing on his phone.

Suit yourself, I return to my inner musings, and warm coffee, it’s as if I were alone, but not, which I’m quite familiar with thank you. This is how marriage with an introvert manifests, I’m here, but not fully realized.

Just when I believe we’ve put the mysterious matter behind us, he looks up and says, “Rental cars, when you check out they’re death traps.”

“Really, you’ve rented hundreds over the years, and managed to survive?”

He says, “listen to this, yesterday some doorknob leaving the rental car parking lot plowed into the car in front of him, took out the woman who was unloading her trunk.”

“I’ve never heard of such a thing?”

“It happens all the time. I always stand to the side of the car when I’m checking out.”

“So that’s why you have me deal with the luggage?”

I get the look.

“Do you need a refill?”

“I do.”

So this got me thinking about the importance of where we stand, not just in parking lots, but our practices, and perspectives. As Abraham Lincoln was known to say, “be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” In this case, it’s to the side of danger.

I believe a healthy perspective is an important attribute, along with a sense of humor, because the world is not fixed, everything is contingent on each other.

It’s early afternoon, I’m back in my room grading papers and simultaneously working on this week’s post. It’s true, women can multitask, both projects suffer, but we get shit done.

Larry walks into our room after hours of revamping a two-bedroom unit we’re – meaning Larry – is preparing to rent. He says, “you have no idea what a cluster of gopher poo (he used a scrappier word but you get the gist) I had to deal with today.”

I say, “oh no, what happened,” giving his tale half an ear as I continue to grade reflections on turning sin into salvation.

He goes into a long explanation about the state of the sinks in the unit, how he just finished replacing the kitchen sink, when he decided to replace the leaky trap in the bathroom sink, tighten it up a bit, and the entire sink cracked. He spent the better part of an hour breaking out the tile and removing the shattered sink. Now he has another installation to finish before we can rent the place.

I say, “rentals age like people, you go years without a problem, and then wham, you’re bombarded with issues.”

He says, “seems as if I’m inundated with leaky traps.” Was he trying to be funny?

“As you know they’re hard to replace.”

I glance to my left where my husband of thirty-eight years is now snoring in the chair right next to me. I came in here to be alone, to think, consider my words, but like he has for thirty-some years, he prefers to sleep right next to me, and I think that’s sort of romantic.

After throwing a blanket over the snoozing man, I head to the family room to empty a few more cupboards in preparation for our upcoming remodel. I can only do a few at a time, it’s emotionally draining. Pieces of my former self are stacked in these cavernous crevasses and I’m forced to sit and revisit these memories. I reacquaint myself with the master chef I was going to be, the world traveler, the published writer, the interior decorator, the supreme quilter, the domestic engineer, but above all the mother extraordinaire.

I manage to empty several cupboards of memorabilia which I load into three boxes and carefully stack in the garage. I’m sweaty, exhausted, and feeling nostalgic, haunted by delusions about who and what I was going to be, but now realize I fell short in many of my aspirations. I wonder if this is how God felt when he was emptying the tomb?

I did what I could, but could I have done more? I suppose, but at whose expense? The painful truth is we gravitate towards our truest desires, right through the mess of life, despite the pitfalls, and unexpected turn of events. We all have our limitations, and we can use them to derail ourselves, or God forbid…ask for help!

I still believe it might be easier to die than remodel a house, at least on the other side you don’t need all this baggage. Sue Augustine says the time has come to lay that baggage down and leave behind all the struggling and striving.

I retire to the backyard, Larry joins me on the patio, our backyard is broken up into informal beds containing a miniature maple tree, Italian fountain, playset for the grandkids, with an assortment of pots filled with geraniums, succulents, and inpatients arranged with casual precision around the patio. The arbor is only standing because of a magnificently overgrown wisteria now bursting with purple foliage. As a whole, the garden is charming, but largely dilapidated.

It seems we are currently inundated with stages of dilapidation, including our dwellings, our purposes, and our bodies, but we’ve managed to stand to the side of danger for the most part.

I return to the story of Easter and the moment Jesus emerged from the tomb, groggy, confused, and disoriented from all the trauma to find his beloved companion standing beside him. I can only imagine how excited Mary was to hear him call her by name and calmly instruct her to go and share the good news, “I have risen.”

The Easter story could have been considered an epic fail, but God transforms that which appears to be tragic into triumph, the inevitability of death into the miracle of new life, and by the way she deals with the luggage.

I’m Living in the Gap, join me in the safety of the comments! How’s the renovations going?

Anecdotes:

  • “Everyone has baggage, maybe we should help each other carry it.” Rob Liano
  • “To believe in the story of Easter is to believe that a wall is nothing more than a door in disguise.” Craig D. Lounsbrough
  • “People are here because they’ve got baggage. I’m talking curbside-check-in, pay-the-fine-’cause-it’s-over-fifty-pounds kind of baggage. Get it?” Lauren Kate
The patio…

31 Comments

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  1. I am not religious. Easter to me means holidays on the Friday and Monday, chocolate eggs, and hot cross buns. This Easter, we also have company for dinner on Saturday. My stepson, and his girlfriend. So this year I can add tidying the garden, giving the kitchen and bathroom a ‘good’ clean, and being a ‘host’. I’m already worn out, and still have two rooms to ‘do’!
    Like Christmas, the best thing about Easter is that it will soon be over.
    (I wish I could cope with ‘repair stuff’ like your husband. But that ship never even arrived in port for me,let alone sailed.)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most days I feel more spiritual than religious Pete, because I seriously lack the dicipline necessary for the truly religious, but I do believe there are lessons embedded in the biblical stories. I love the tradional practices that challenge me to transform my less than desireable (selfish) attitudes and behaviors in favor of a more philothronpic comportment. With me, there’s always room for improvement! We’re looking forward to a large Easter celebration with most of my children, grandbabies, neighbors, along with my sister and niece! I’m doing an IPA (beer) hunt for the adult kids and eggs for the little ones. The conclusion of Easter means the conclusion of my daughters visit from Boston which I wish would never end. You might not be able to “repair stuff” Pete but you sure can weave an incredible story! Warmly, C

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Hi Cheryl!

    I work for Maryanne Pope doing her marketing/digital marketing and I just want to tell you I read all your blogs and LOVE them! Your writing is so witty and hilarious yet with a great message every time.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts as they’re so relatable!

    Sarah

    >

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi Sarah, so you’re the one who weaves the magic for Maryanne, I love her and her work! Thank you so much for the kinds words, it means more to me than you know. I’m honored that you enjoy my writing and connect with the messages. Thank you, all my best, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Fraggle, oh you Brits, if it weren’t for those adorable accents, what would we do with all the ireverence? Most likely you all are having a lot more fun! Thanks for the good wishes with the remodel, I’ll need it! Warmly, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kim, I think most people feel much the same, but I do love the Lenten practices of refraining from negative attitudes and behaviors for 40 days, and of course the celebration – or should we say the possibility of new life – at the culimation of the tradition. It gives me such hope. Happy Easter to you and yours, may the Spirit be good to you! C

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I totally get the frustration with Catholicism, they’ve views are rigid and they’re slow to change, but I’m nourished by the scriptures, rituals, and traditions so I turn a deaf ear to the magisterium and follow the guidance of Jesus which asks us to act in loving ways towards each other. That I can do! C

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Easter! I am a convert from Presbyterian, to no religion Catholicism in my mid 30s. I love the solemnity of the faith and the comfort it brings me. Although I always fail at my Lenten promises, I keep trying and have hope. Thank you for another wonderful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Happy Easter Elizabeth, Catholicism has its challenges, but I too am nourished by the scriptures, traditions, and rituals. I like how Jesus always acted with love and kindness and I try and do likewise, when I fail, more often than I’d like to admit, I’m grateful for his endless offer of forgiveness, anchors my hope!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Right you are, Cheryl–there’s nothing like a pile of stuff to remind us of who we might have been, or thought we’d be. I’m with you, too, when you suggest that, in the end, we do what we most want and need to do. Don’t you think it’s a blessing, though, to have so many interests, even if they’d require more than one lifetime to pursue? Wouldn’t you rather have that dilemma than the opposite (i.e. “I’m so bored!”). Your Easter sounds like it’s gonna be wonderful… especially the IPA Beer Hunt! Enjoy and thanks for another beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mary Ellen, Happy Easter to you and yours! As you say, “wouldn’t you rather have the dilemma of too many pursuits” than boredom? Absolutely! I say dance while you can hear the music and have the ability to move! Here’s to finding plentiful and cold IPA’s! See you next week! Warmly, C

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  5. I love your words, C. You weave them together so wonderfully. Your style is witty, eclectic, descriptive, and honest. Please be careful where you stand. You wrote about 3 I love {God, Abraham Lincoln, and Tammy Wynette}. Happy Easter, C. Hugs and blessings~Karla

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! what a GREAT read Cheryl! You ARE the new milenium’s Erma Bombeck. Really Really!
    Just WOW. So much here that really spoke to me and touched me deeply. A few musings . . .

    1. Ahhhh . . Luggage. The time I have spent being flung about the planet in jet-propelled aluminum cylinders (occasionally at near Mach 2) that awarded me perennial Global Services status on “Untied” Airlines (you may know them as ‘United’), and Executive Club on British Air, etc, coupled with my notorious reputation amongst my business associates of vacationing far too much allows me some perspective in regards to “luggage”, not as a badge of courage but rather as a clear indication that I must have been doing something wrong in my career to be away from home so much, but at the same God seemed to find the time for me to balance it out rather nicely with fabulously long vacations a couple of times a year to burn up all the Frequent Flier miles! 😉

    When I saw the title, I was hooked. I have thought a lot about “Luggage”: the metaphoric kind, amassed during our lives in real life and the kind used in actual passport carrying travel mode. To me, both have a connection and a direct indication of one’s focus while proving one’s character to our maker while here on this planet. Give me a moment and I’ll bring them together right here: Case in point, in the last ~10 years we have downsized from a 5,000+ sqft home to a ~400sqft Residence Inn studio suite, apparently God’s plan to ready ourselves for retirement in Europe based in Portugal, but seeing everything we can in 2-4 week flat swaps across the EU and Med. I’ve said for years “it’s all just stuff”, and I meant it. Oh, and as a bonus, I know for a fact that the “emotional” baggage is easy to let go of as well. I’ll share my thoughts on that in a bit.

    So, the ‘baggage claim’ kind: I eventually loosened my load such that when I traveled throughout Asia for 2+ weeks it was with a simple “Eagle Creek” canvas carry-on. But, much to Terrie’s chagrin, I require 2 full-size suitcases to travel to the tropics, (wherever those ‘tropics’ might be) for ~three weeks, requiring ~26 unique outfits for golf, fine dining, and lounging. For goodness sakes, footwear alone accounted for ~1/2 of a large suiter. . . And lastly, in total contrast to both above, while visiting the EU for ~3 weeks at a time I insist that everyone adhere to the rule of a single roll-along and a purse/light backpack due to smallish cabs, trains, ferries & puddle-jumpers as the basic mode of transport.

    The simple, low involvement ‘carry-on’ represents ‘Dress to Work’, and my personal low emotional attachment associated with the means for life.

    Those two full huge suiters (plus that essential carry-on) are stuffed full of mostly new togs for golf, boating, diving, exploring, etc. They represent ‘Dress to Live’, screaming to myself: “This”. . . “This”. . . is My Life!” Total diva sh*t and I have no apology for it 🙂 I have deep attachments to those adventures and as such, everything that left a mark on my soul during those trips has meaning, and I am happy to be burdened with them.

    Lastly, The ‘one roll-along only’ version says “We are here to see stuff, experience stuff, laugh almost continuously, spill wine at every meal, buy clothes and mementos that will be treasured years later and where we ship stuff home after every 3-4 days. It’s about family memories simple meals and fabulous conversations along the way. – No Diva Sh*t allowed! 🙂 I actually took a pic of that 20+-year-old carry-on here in our hotel room in N. Scottsdale as I wrote this, but I need to figure out how to imbed the image in the post! 😉

    2. Okay, I have to comment on the resurrected Jesus. . . RE “I return to the story of Easter and the moment Jesus emerged from the tomb, groggy, confused, and disoriented from all the trauma”. Well, okay then. Perspective is personal, be it luggage, or the supernatural.

    That said, the resurrection studied in my religious work at university and enjoyed since and, is something I have been eternally grateful for since later in my adult life when I finally “got it”. The resurrection is an event that resulted in the “son” of the creator of the universe leaving his 360-degree imprint on his burial shroud – an intact, priceless linen relic and recorded as being collected from the tomb by the disciple John. thankfully, This treasure trove of forensic discoveries of biblical history is alive and well, currently stored safely in an air-tight neutral gas chamber in the Royal Chapel of Turin Cathedral in Northern Italy for something like 5 and a half centuries.

    The really fascinating aspect of the relic is the scientific explanation as to the cause of the image that was left behind, which of course for believers is the perfect negative image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The way the image is imprinted on the linen shroud can only be explained as the result of a massive burst of energy – The very definition of a supernatural event if ever there was one.

    As such my thinking is if this is true? Then this widely regarded “Son” of the creator of the universe, upon emerging from that tomb must have presented as something (both in body and spirit) well beyond human conception. . . 😉

    Now, as promised – “Baggage”, the Emotional Kind.

    Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior is not only the focus of my life to reach heaven for eternity, but he is also my soul’s savior here on earth. You see, I started saying this simple novena (a prayer said for 9 days) quite some time ago, and It really lets you let go of all the metaphoric ‘Heavy’ Baggage picked up during our existence that can weigh us down.

    Jesus Christ himself revealed the Surrender Novena to Fr. Dolingo Ruotolo, an Italian priest, to teach us to turn our troubles over to Him and surrender them to His will. Have you ever seen me, in the last ten years upset or worried for any length of time? That’s because this novena is the real deal. . . I say it daily in the morning. Takes like 3 minutes, tops!

    here is the link: Surrender Novena
    Surrender Novena
    Jesus Christ revealed the Surrender Novena to Fr. Dolingo Ruotolo, an Italian priest, to teach us to turn our tr…

    Dive in my dear sister in Christ. The water’s “Favoloso”!

    Blessings and wishes for the most joyous and impacting Easter for you and the family ever neighbor!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Chris, good to hear from you, as I thoroughly enjoy your view on matters that matter. It is interesting that the older I get the less stuff I want to harbor, dust, and repair! Dare I say I’m becoming a minimalist? Okay, not a minimalist, but I’m learning that less is more! And I adore your one roller policy when traveling ~ a little black dress, jeans, t-shirt, and yoga pants ~ what more does one need? I didn’t realize that you did so much traveling for work back in the day. Larry did too, he’d hop on a plane on Monday and return by Friday. He did that for years and we too enjoyed the perks of frequent flyers and captains lounges. I look forward to the day when international travel opens up and we can “fly” again. My son is living in Portugal and we’re hoping to visit him in the Fall. I think Portugal would be an awesome hub for you and Terrie as you enter into your retirement and enjoy the treasures of Europe. Speaking of treasure, you mention the shroud of Jesus, what a gift we have of this most extraordinary event, especially as we prepare to celebrate this very phenomenon this Sunday. I love how you put this, “we are here to see stuff, experience stuff, laugh almost continuously, spill wine at every meal…It’s about family memories simple meals and fabulous conversations along the way. – No Diva Sh*t allowed!” Amen! Thanks for the information on the Surrender Novena, I’ve done several of these prayers through the years with my girlfriends but this one is new to me. I’ll check it out. Thanks, Chris for your sharing your thoughts on not only the baggage we carry, but also the faith we hold, and the Jesus we belong to! Happy Easter my friend, C

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  8. I can relate to cleaning out your things of the past. It was hard at first but then all of a sudden I want to get rid of everything! What is that all about? Lol My house is becoming empty with less to clean and less clutter. I think deep down I am preparing for the condo down the road when 2-1/2 acres becomes physically impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so interesting that you mention the “sudden interest to get rid of everything,” because as my energy waned I came down with the same affliction! I put everything out front “that didn’t spark joy” and my daughter posted it on social media, all free! Cars rolled up, things rolled away, it felt good! I’m not sure we’ll downsize as our home is a ranch style and the yard is manageable but this perspective could change as we age! Less clutter does feel good! C

      Liked by 2 people

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