Monday, January 16, 2012

Useful and Beautiful

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”

I've always loved this quote and I would say it applies doubly to a missionary's suitcases. When you are at home, with space and storage to spare, it is easy to justify the possible usefulness of many things that in the end are in fact just things that you'll never use.  Not so much with a two bag allowance per family member.

We are blessed in that the home we are renting is furnished and the owner is leaving many of the household items in the house.  Nonetheless, a mom making home still reserves the right to bring a bit of her own beauty to that space.  And a dad on an adventure reserves the right to a few fun items of his own. And kids, boys anyway, can beg space for legos, soccer balls, and football trophies.  And somehow amidst the clothes and boots and rain gear, there is space for each person definition of useful and beautiful to be fulfilled in small, intimate ways. There is great joy in this mother's heart for that part of the process.

I think every family would learn a great deal from this challenge. Imagine a two suitcase plus one backpack limit per family member.  You need not consider furniture, and kitchen items and things like bath towels and sheets are packed as choices based on pleasure or frugality, but can be replaced where ever you're heading.  Your allowance must fit all clothes, shoes, homeschooling books and supplies, toys and games, personal items, and any items you would bring to make that place feel like home.  Oh, and just for fun, eliminate one allowed suitcase for the monstrance you are bringing the parish for a gift and another for your husband's computer.  And if you really want to make it a challenge, another for the guitar.

Here is a little look at some of our choices:

Useful: Boots for All the Adventurers

Both: A Basket of Favorites for my Kitchen

Beautiful: Just a Little Box of Pretty for Mom

And the most useful and beautiful of all the items we bring, a vessel of honor for the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord.  A gift from the moderator of the Saint Bryce Foundation, Msgr. Jefferson DeBlanc and his parish to the San Juan Diego mission. 

We pack in our suitcases all the things we think we need to live, but the one thing we really need is already there. Him. Present. Waiting.  And the most important thing we bring does not fit in a suitcase. It is a desire to love Him. comfort Him, adore Him, and enflame that love in the hearts of others.  To tell the poor and the sick and the hurting of the Great Love that sits quietly waiting to meet them, to pour Himself out for them, to bring hope and healing and peace.

As I began the process of packing, I knew well that feeling of being emptied as we prepared for our mission. I have walked this road before. I pondered early on about what a good feeling it is to be emptied of so much stuff, of so many day to day worries and cares. That the space made in not just a blank, bereft space inside, but room for Christ to grow, to fill more of me.

I had no way of knowing the very hard emptying He was about to ask of me. I could not calculate the waves of emotions that would set in as the moment of driving down the drive way for the last time grew near.  That gaping space, that emptiness, it hurts. It is raw and real and deep.  But I know with all my heart, in all my frail brokenness, that the truth remains.  It is His space. He has emptied it for His good purpose, and He will fill it with His goodness.  

As we drive away from one home today with the blessing of another awaiting us, I pray for you all to find a way to empty yourself of something you do not need to be carrying in your heart, to let go of the fear of feeling empty, and to make a little room for Him.  He wants to fill us all.  We must make the space.  Would you too pray for us and especially for the people to whom we go? Pray that we may be able to bring the love of a Savior and the witness of His presence in the Holy Eucharist in a way that fills empty spaces with the warmth of heaven's love.  

We thank you for the kind support and prayers you have offered this past week. They have buoyed us and propelled us forward in a great wave of mercy and grace for which we could not be more grateful.  

Our Gabriel, a sweet friend, and Msgr. DeBlanc


  1. Godspeed on your journey, Mitchells!

    May joy and peace surround you,
    Contentment latch your door,
    And happiness be with you now,
    And bless you evermore.

    I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures!

  2. You are constantly in my thoughts and prayers, my sweet friend. May Our Lord and Blessed Mother grant you abundant graces.

  3. I know it is good that you go, but my heart is screaming "DONT LEAVE ME! STAY, I NEED YOU"...and yet I have one more thing to take to the Cross. GO, BE WELL, HEAL, PREACH, LOVE....we will be here when you get back!!!

  4. Godspeed Colleen and family!
    I'm blessed to be with on you on your journey through your words and pictures. ... praying for you all, Colleen. May your journey be abundantly blessed.

  5. Beautiful blog. My friend Caroline F. is a mutual friend and I have been praying for you. We recently moved to Sri Lanka (although we get to bring a bit more of our "stuff" - not everything), so I totally relate to this blog post. I'm adding you to my blog roll!

  6. Thank you for sharing this amazing time with all of us Colleen and family. God be with you all and all that you will meet on your journey!