Packing for London, Paris, Rome, trying to squeeze my life into Samsonite, containers to roll alongside as we maneuver the airports, line up for the scanners, set out the gray tubs on the conveyor belt where the laptop, jacket, shoes, handbag are stuffed.
I’m leaving behind an other self in California. My home routines will be invaded, attacked, and removed. New ones will take their place and my mind will occasionally short circuit as I stare into space trying to rewire it with this newness, as I recreate myself.
I find this transition painful, as though going to the gym after an absence and feeling the pain in my lax muscles, or fasting on the first day of Lent and grimacing at hunger contractions. With this journey away from my home country, my eyes are being refocused, trained to see in new ways. My world is turned upside down as I find myself in another culture.
Along the way, there will be a great deal of scurrying and motion and noise. Jet engines throbbing and pulsing through the night of flying over the sea hugging the earth, sending vibrations through my flesh and bone. Announcements on loudspeakers. Then later, in hotels, sirens in the deep of the city, trucks unloading at daybreak, tires screeching, airbrakes whistling, slamming doors, the shout of someone in the distance, echoing. We are going to cities, after all, and will be in the center, feeling the heartbeat and the fast-moving arteries.
I will not sleep too well for a number of days, sometimes longer, for morning is evening and evening is morning, and the architecture of my mind will have to be redrawn, rebuilt, so that I may live in this new environment and sleep again. They call this jet lag, words that don’t seem to do the experience justice.
I think of these things as I layer the tee shirts, slacks, skirts and sweaters into the way too tiny box called luggage, trying to stuff in one more item, trying once again to pull the zipper along its track. I am sure I have been severe in my choices, have rejected many things, but still there are way too many shirts, slacks, skirts and sweaters. I return some to my closet with a sigh. My old world is shrinking already.
What will God show me in London, Paris, Rome? What is his plan? I shall watch and listen and say my prayers, following the lead of the angels that travel with me. I shall kneel before many altars and ask, show me, Lord.
I will be forced to change, to see the world a bit differently. Sometimes when this happens God has a chance to work his way into my heart, for I depend on him, especially in the transition time. He rewires me, re-creates me.
Scripture tells us we shall receive new bodies in the Resurrection. I believe it, for I have seen my own old one change so over the years. Just as my heart and mind and soul are continually remade by God, continually fed by him in the Mass, continually remolded in prayer, so it is easy to believe he can do something with my 135 pounds of flesh and bone, flesh and bone growing thin and brittle and saggy and pinched. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
We’ve been listening to Handel’s Messiah at home, a Christmas and Easter tradition in our house, and the Scriptural phrases sing over and over in my mind, We shall be changed. In the twinkling of an eye… the last trumpet shall sound… and we shall be changed.
Life does this to all of us, as we pass through our time, but I’m so very thankful to have God help in the changing, in the remolding as I do my little repenting. I long to be changed … to become what I am meant to become. Someday to have the longing fulfilled.
For now, I must pack my old self in the suitcase (ha, an old word that one) and unpack my new self when I arrive. I guess it will be a bit of a rehearsal for the last great change, my resurrection. I shall watch and listen and be patient for the small voice in my ear, the flutter of wings touching my soul. The angels are all around me, guiding me, leading me.
As the plane takes off with all its proud rumble and the massive wheels retract into the steel body with a definite lurch, I shall think of these things again. The earth will retreat as I soar high, high, higher, and I shall arrive in London, already slightly changed, slightly closer to my resurrection.