“Claiming Your Place at the Fire”

John 21

Two books deeply impacted my thinking about transitional time.  David Shapiro and Richard Leider  wrote Claiming Your Place at the Fire and Repacking Your Bags: Lightening Your Load for the Good Life.  Both men work in the Gerontology (Aging) Dept. at the U of MN.  I heard them speak years ago and grabbed their books.  They led safaris of mature people who wanted to trek the plains of Kenya and give themselves space to think and detox from their lives.  The books talk about gathering around the campfire at night and the author notes how the elders position themselves.  The elder, wiser men sat near the flame and all shared.

         The basic thesis is that we all carry three bags: a big suitcase, an overnight bag, and a brief case.  These hold the different themes of our lives.  When we come to a transitional point in our life like retirement or perhaps marriage, we need to draw aside and evaluate the “tools” in our bag and whether they are needed for the next phase.  One of the words I’m hearing friends use is “declutter.”  We need to discard that which no longer gets us where we want to go and then repack.

         The risen Jesus has called from the shore to the seven disciples who have fished all night and caught nothing.  Throw the nets on the other side, he advises.  They catch a haul and realize it is Jesus and get themselves to shore.  What does Jesus do?  He gathers them around a campfire for sharing.  He has the fish cooked and it ready to chat.  The dynamic, though, is that the disciples are in a “liminal space” or a transition time.  They are going from Jesus present physically and teaching through parables to Jesus risen and sending the Holy Spirit.  They need to repack their bags.  Somethings need to be discarded and new tools need to be added.

         As we spend time now to pray and reflect, a question to ask the Holy Spirit is for clarifications on whether we have “baggage,” habits, attitudes for dealing with life that are not serving us well.  Are there things that would tweak you spiritually as you seek to draw near to God?  We are always growing and learning and God helps us best to do that.  Blessings as you sit around the fire with Jesus today.

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