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The Catholic Moment: Take your walking stick

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

By Father Rob Waller

Getting ready for a trip I tend to over pack and over plan. Early on I realize that I have more with me than I need or want. I waste energy arranging and re-arranging it and carrying it around, and I have no room left for anything new. By the end of the trip I realize that the most beneficial things and the most enjoyable things were things that I had not planned, but that fell into my lap.

My packing for a trip is a mini-picture, a metaphor, for the way I tend to live life — lugging too much baggage along with me, paying too much attention to preparation and details and not getting ready for surprise benefits and enjoyment.

Jesus instruction to His followers to “take nothing with you on your mission but a walking stick” is certainly practical. A good walking stick can help us keep our balance. It is useful for clearing our path, if need be. We might also use it to protect ourselves us from what can bite or sting, harm or hurt us.

The walking stick may have more than just practical advantages. Imagine how helpful it is for us as we walk through life or go on our mission in life, if we have with us at all times a walking stick that has gratitude at one end and hope at the other end. If we hold on to hope, gratitude keeps us grounded. If we have a grip on gratitude, hope keeps us steady on our feet. Whichever we have in hand, the other touches the ground beneath us.

With gratitude and hope we will not be thrown off balance by our lack of something or by our grasping for something else. Gratitude and hope will clear our path of weeds and debris, of things that do nothing but get in our way or entangle us in things that make us stumble. Any threatening sting or bite or attack will not be deadly, if we keep a hold on hope and have a grip on gratitude.

Be on your way. Take your walking stick.

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