I found myself at the platform of a train station. I’m not sure how I got there or where I was headed. I just knew how very weary I was and that I’d been traveling a long time.
Looking around me, I was surprised to see that amid the hustle and bustle were not the faces of strangers, but family, friends, and acquaintances. Curiously, some of these I hadn’t seen in years and many I’d never see again. As I met their eyes, there lingered a question within that I couldn’t quite fathom.
Upon closer examination I saw that each had one or more suitcases with them – old, new, plain, fancy, worn, small, and large. On the cases were labels, but instead of countries were written words that I found even more confusing. This one carried a bag labeled ‘kindness.’ That one bore a particularly unattractive case with ‘abuse’ plastered across it. One face I knew very well belonged to a man juggling a collection of bags – ‘bitterness’, ‘disappointment’, ‘humor’, ‘work ethic’, and ‘confidence.’ I saw my mother holding matching Samsonite bags – light blue – identified as ‘strength’, ‘hospitality’, ‘justice’, and ‘integrity.’
Glancing down at my feet I saw my own luggage. I was surprised to see that these bags matched many of those before me. I suddenly realized that the question on their faces was actually a beckoning. “Will you take my bags?”
I tried to gather my own and discovered that I couldn’t carry them all. ‘What am I to do?’ I wondered. I was unable to move in any direction with all of them and, distressed, I cast about for help.
Seeing my frustration, the station master approached me. “What seems to be the problem?” he asked.
“I have so many bags, and all these people want me to carry theirs!”
“That is a problem,” he responded. “Why not leave some of them here?”
“Well, they’re all mine. I have to carry them. See this one? He gave it to me when I was twelve.”
“It looks awfully heavy,” the station master prodded.
“Yes, but I’ve become accustomed to it.” A sad sigh fell like a heavy cloud from my lips to the bag labeled ‘dirty secret.’
“Well, this one looks much lighter.”
“Oh yes, I think I’ve had that one my whole life. My grandmother gave it to me.” Proudly I showed him a well-worn bag marked ‘faith.’ “Actually, it’s been passed down from her to my mother and from her to me.”
“Hmm. If you stack these just so,” he suggested, grabbing ‘warmth’, ‘joy’, ‘wisdom’, and ‘serving’ and placing one atop the other.
“Oh, but that is far too tall!”
“Yes, but they are very light. However, you will have to use both hands.”
“If I use both hands I won’t be able to carry ‘doubt’, ‘fear’, ‘bitterness’, and ‘objectification.'”
“Sounds to me like you have a choice to make. I must tell you, though, that you won’t be able to get to your destination with those.”
“I don’t know what to do. How do I know what to choose? I’m afraid I’ll miss my train while I’m trying to sort it all out.”
“If you’ll allow me to help you, I promise to hold the train for you.”
As we sorted through the bags I was surprised to find just how much I had been dragging with me. Standing and grasping the handles of my new load, I set off for the train. Just before stepping on board, I turned to see the station master assisting another passenger.
“Wait, what if I pick up more bags along the way?” I called out to him.
“There is always a station master that’s willing to help you sort them out again,” he called back with a smile on his face.
I stepped onto the train, stowed every bit of the luggage, and settled in to my compartment with my face toward my destination. I still didn’t know where that would eventually be, but I felt sure for the first time that I would reach it.