Wednesday, November 20, 2019


The traffic light was red for a long time and the day was breezy, so I was able to watch the plastic bag tumble for a long distance down the side of the road. Aside from my irritation that yet another plastic bag was littering the environment, I found it remarkable that it traveled so far and so easily, not becoming snagged by anything along the way.

It became an object lesson for me, reminding me of a quote I’d shared with a yoga class last week: Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything. That bag had nothing holding it back. It was lightweight and unencumbered. It went where the wind blew it.

A famous quote by Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind: I am a feather on the breath of God. The freedom to go wherever God blows you may seem exhilarating to some and terrifying to others, or maybe both at the same time! Living an unencumbered life is something our materialistic society can hardly imagine. We are easily snagged by the values of the culture that advocate for ownership of as much as possible. We take away our own freedom to be a feather on the breath of God (a lovelier image than a tumbling plastic bag!).

Already my email inbox is filling up with holiday sale notices. The temptation to add more possessions to what I already have is heightened at this time of year. I need to remember that more stuff does not bring peace and joy. In fact, the less I am encumbered by possessions, the more freedom I have. Less stuff to take care of means more time to spend with people I love, more time to be outside in nature, more time to offer myself in service to God, more time to practice Sabbath rest.

Living a more unencumbered life requires intention and vigilance. Yet the freedom and joy of less is the reward for that discipline. To be fully available for God is the life we are all called to live. May we desire to be freed for joyful obedience, a feather on the breath of God.