Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pause for Thought
The Richard Allinson Show
BBC Radio 2
Sunday, February 26th

As I prepare over the next few weeks for rather a lengthy hike through northern Spain – nearly five hundred miles to Santiago de Compostella – the question in my mind is not

“what do I need to take with me” but rather

“what can I leave behind”.

Anything I take with me has to be carried on my back. I find myself thinking strange thoughts about the weight of underwear – which seems a silly thing to be thinking about except that it will all add up. It’s all going to need to be carried.

We accumulate things – which we move around with us around the country or around the world. Our loft contains items in boxes which we never unpacked after our last move and which we don’t feel able to part with. We have become heavy-laden – not only with items but with accumulated responsibilities, with the weight of habit and with an ever-increasing appetite for stability and regularity.

I know any number of young people who feel very tied down to particular lifestyles and to a set series of steps ahead of them. It collides with what we oldsters imagined “ought” to have been the trademark of youth - mobility and lightness of step.

We do know that when the telephone rings with news of a sufficiently urgent nature we’ll drop everything at the drop of a hat. We’ll sort out our finances in an instant. We’ll streamline our lives. We’ll make the time. If it were urgent enough…..

Part of the message of this season of Lent, as it is understood in the Christian tradition, is that the news is urgent. Men and women need to live a leaner life because our overconsumption has been to the peril of others.

And, if we look at what we have collected about ourselves we may find that we have compromised our freedom to walk lightly on the trail.

This is a good time to offload that baggage – to do it urgently – to be less of a burden to the earth and all its peoples. At the same time we might just experience the world around us more fully, and win back our freedom to change.