Take Nothing for the Journey (part one in a series)


Guest blogger Yvette Piggush shares reflections about her recent trip to Lourdes, France. This is the first in a series.

I packed my suitcase for my trip to Lourdes so carefully. I tried to plan for every drop of rain and gust of wind. Of course, this isn’t how Jesus suggests that his disciples travel. Jesus urges us to “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic” (Luke 9:3). I told myself Jesus didn’t necessarily mean this literally.

A few minutes before the train to Brussels arrives.

When I arrived in Amsterdam, I discovered that my next flight was canceled. A snowstorm had shut down nearly every airport in England where I was supposed to meet my friend so we could travel together to Lourdes. On the advice of an airline representative, I decided to try to reach England using the “channel tunnel” train from Brussels to London. “How do I get my luggage?” I asked. “You don’t,” the airline representative replied. It was in an inaccessible storage area. I left the airport for the train station with only the clothes I was wearing.

Travel goal: Lourdes. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception sits above the natural grotto where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette.

Taking nothing for the journey made me feel terribly vulnerable. As I stood on the train station platform in Amsterdam, I anxiously checked and rechecked the pocket with my passport. What more might I lose? But I couldn’t be worried and suspicious for long because I had left behind something else: English. Bewildered by signs and announcements in Dutch, I turned to a young woman beside me. She didn’t speak Dutch and her English had a French accent, but we puzzled out that the train I had been told to take to Rotterdam was canceled. I got on a different train. When I arrived at Rotterdam, other passengers pointed me to the train that would take me to Brussels. There, a station worker showed me the boarding area for the train to London.

I never reunited with my suitcase. But what I gained was more important than the carefully curated collection of socks and sweaters I lost. When I was compelled to take nothing for the journey, I discovered Jesus in the kindness of the ordinary people willing to help a stranger.

Yvette Piggush is active in St. Mary’s Cathedral parish in St. Cloud. She teaches in the English Department at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University. When she isn’t reading something, she may be found baking desserts, going on long walks, and enjoying time with her nieces and goddaughters.

 


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