I love to travel and explore new cultures, places, and ideas. I especially love the way travel gives me a greater insight and understanding of what it means to be part of one universal family. However, when I’m preparing to visit unfamiliar places, deciding what to pack is sometimes challenging. A friend of mine from a faraway land laughingly exclaimed that he could always spot American travelers by the voluminous pile of baggage they dragged along with them.
As I looked at the suitcases I was preparing to take on a trip, I had to admit he had made an interesting observation! Did I need all that luggage? I found myself thinking that perhaps it would be a good idea to look at my travel needs from a different perspective – from the perspective of what I would need spiritually.
Thinking about packing from this standpoint, I remembered reading that Jesus once gave his disciples instructions for packing. He said that they should “take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: but be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats” (Mark 6:8, 9). We could gather from this that there were more important things for them to be taking on their journey than possessions. Certainly they would need the spiritual understanding he’d been teaching them.
What was the spiritual understanding they would need? The understanding that God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient – and that we are all created in His image and likeness. Jesus understood that the disciples needed to give attention to expressing more selfless love, humility, and purity because these divine qualities would allow them to see, experience, and prove for others God’s unfailing goodness.
Realizing that right now we are God’s image, and therefore complete, gives the peace of mind needed to discern the good that is already at hand to meet one’s needs – good that the dark shadows of doubt or fear might try to conceal. Understanding our relationship to God allows us to be filled with inspiration and hear divine direction. It helps us grow in grace and become more fully conscious of God’s all-embracing goodness. This enables us to be receptive to the ways our needs can be met, and we find that God, divine Love, takes care of these daily needs.
While in today’s modern world it would be difficult to bring an actual staff that Jesus recommended to his disciples through security screening, what we can take along is a spiritual staff – the support we have when leaning on God, divine Love, for strength, comfort, and protection.
Understanding how important it is to keep our thoughts in line with God, good, Christian Science discoverer and Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote in her book “Unity of Good”: “Be allied to the deific power, and all that is good will aid your journey...” (p. 17).
Our alliance to God, who is Spirit, is our spiritual staff. As we begin to understand our inseparability from our Father-Mother God, it also reminds us that we are all brothers and sisters in God’s universal family. Leaning on God helps us express the divine qualities that unite mankind – qualities of love, respect, honesty, and joy, which shine through all of God’s family. The light of God’s qualities destroys the shadows of discord, which try to darken our sense of unity with a lack of mutual understanding.
As we equip ourselves with spiritual understanding and trust in God, we also learn what baggage we should leave behind – things such as arrogance, disrespect, prejudice, and self-righteousness. Turning to good, God, helps us overcome those dark propensities and replace them with genuine humility and selfless love, and these ideas promote peace and unity. Expressing love helps each of us become ambassadors for global peace and understanding. As we strive to respect one another and see everyone as the expression of Love, we can begin to live and work together in harmony with other cultures and other governments.
Trusting God with all things helps us understand more clearly what Mrs. Eddy meant when she wrote, “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 494). As we lean on God, divine Love, we are reminded to be more loving toward one another, and this in turn leads to progress and healing.
As you prepare for your next trip, don’t forget your staff. You’ll be delighted to see how light your luggage can be and how God will meet your needs as you enjoy your journey.