What to carry?
Lisa Fullam September 19, 2009 - 11:44am
I'm still making my way along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. My fellow caminista and I aren't doing the whole route, but about half--we'll have gone about 270 miles when we finish on Monday. On the camino, we try to minimize our gear because we carry it on our backs from place to place. How many shirts do I REALLY need? How many socks? The camino isn't easy, but it is simple, in that each day our basic responsibility is straightforward--we rise, we eat, we walk, we rest. We really need very little to do that. As we've traveled we shed some gear, while other stuff we continue to carry.It's also significant what we do carry beyond practical basics. I've been unable to shed books entirely, but still carry 4 or 5, along with the netbook on which I type now. I threw away chapters of one book as I read them. Another, a hardcover I can't toss because I'm to review it, well, I finally sawed the cover off after a long day. The books, I decided, are worth the cost to my back to carry them. They are part of my being "me" on the camino.What we decide is worth the cost to carry, and what we can set aside, at least for a time, is a pretty straightforward life lesson. Another echo of this, though, is going on in the Church these days. What is worth the cost to carry? Is a celibate male clergy worth the cost of diminished access to sacraments? And the related costs of burnout, etc. to the men who are wounded by celibacy and alienation of the women and men denied this form of leadership? Is protecting Church assets worth the cost of the secrecy and the aggressive legal tactics used to defend them? Is unanimity in teaching worth the cost of silencing theologians and stifling debate? Or is it really still simpler: "And [Jesus] said to them, "When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" They said, "No, nothing." The gospel may be enough. OK, and a few books.
About the Author
Lisa Fullam is associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).