The Daily Grace
The Daily Grace

how a nun helped me learn to pack properly

Jul 7, 2015 | god & grace | 14 comments


If there is a quote on my gravestone, it should say this:

She took everything she had everywhere she went and never had what she needed.

Lordy, it’s true. (Just ask my husband.) A quick weekend hop to visit Dad in Florida requires two knitting projects, five magazines, three books, two laptops, two digital cameras and an iPad. Oh, and a sketchbook. And that doesn’t even count the multiple outfits per day I pack–casual, dressier, warmer, cooler, and the all important “what if I just don’t feel like wearing any of the others?” option.

It’s ridiculous, this I recognize.

I just don’t know what to do about it.


No wonder my heart stopped as I listened to Sister Simone Campbell, a nun, lawyer, lobbyist, poet and “Zen contemplative” as she exposed the root of my problem–an obsession with security–in her beautiful “How to be Spiritually Bold” conversation with Krista Tippett of On Being.

She was talking about bigger things than my inefficient packing –inequality, oppression, liberation theology–when she casually mentioned a need for a new theology in the United States. Here’s what she said that got my attention.

I came to this insight. I think our sin is our obsession with security. Our obsession that everything ought to work out perfectly for us.That we ought to have every conceivable drop of oil ever that we’d ever need, any time. That we have to have electricity. And a guarantee I brought the right clothes, so I brought extra just in case I needed extra layers. I mean, all this obsession with having everything we need.


Security is an illusion, she said, because we’re all vulnerable. We would be much better off if we just made peace with insecurity.

Make peace with insecurity.

(That spoke to my heart.)

We’re all vulnerable.



And so I have been giving a lot of thought to this idea of making peace with insecurity. What does that really mean, anyway? And how would I go about it?

It reminds me of the trip we took to Colorado just last month. Tim and I made the long climb (in a car) from Boulder up Flagstaff Mountain to Lost Gulch Lookout. My palms were sweating as I watched my unaffected husband bounce around on the edge of those rocks.




So you feel afraid my soul whispered. Go anyway. Don’t miss that view.

And so I did.



This may or may not be me with my hand providing stability. I promise you I did not even realize it until I looked at this photo.


I’ve also thought of the concepts of vulnerability and insecurity as I’ve walked around my yard of late. I’ve had enough run-ins with snakes to warrant a fair amount of caution, let me be clear. But when I was on the verge of buying flowers rather than collecting my own pretty ones, I knew a talk with myself was in order.

I need to change my perspective, I said. Snakes and I have peacefully co-existed my entire life–I just haven’t been hyper-aware they are there. Perhaps I should recognize their toleration of me. Perhaps I could respect their right to live here, too.

And then I packed for Florida. I wasn’t perfect–but it was a vast improvement. No magazines, no books, only one knitting project. And only two extra outfits.

Now that’s progress.

The Theology of Insecurity. I’m working on it.



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  1. Martha

    I suffer from the same, Cathy, and will be packing for a trip to France today. Thanks for the timely wise words!

    • Cathy

      France sounds fabulous. Will be thinking of you with joy and a tad bit of envy! Thanks, Martha!

  2. Joretta

    Sooo proud of you for gathering flowers from your yard. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    • Cathy

      Ha! Ha! Right? Thank you, Joretta!

  3. Kevin

    When I saw the title of your post, I wondered if you had listened to the same podcast that so moved me this long weekend. How fun it is that you did!

    • Cathy

      Oh yes. I loved it so much I listened to it twice. Every little bit is a keeper. Thank you, Kevin!

  4. Colleen

    I have seen the packing process up close and personal. I’m so proud of the new travel you and and amazed at the Catholic nun’s insight.
    I’ve never, for even a minute,thought of you as posessing an ounce of insecurity. My eyes only see warrior and strength.

    • Cathy

      Your sweet comment makes my heart swell. I’ll keep working on the warrior and strength parts! Thank you, friend.

  5. Alice Wyatt

    Great insight Cathy. I have learned to pack very light when I travel n it’s not easy and it’s s process which can only be achieved through patience.

    • Cathy

      I’m sure you could teach a course on packing well. I would take it! Thank you, Alice!

  6. Cheryl

    Oh, how this speaks to me, Cathy! I pack a bag of magazines, cookbooks & the iPad just for a family trip to the mall!!! LOL!

    • Cathy

      WE MUST BE SISTERS. Thanks, Cheryl!

  7. Jean McElroy

    Thanks Cathy, we could all do without “things”!!! I will do a better job of packing for my next trip. Thanks for sharing. Love you sweet girl!

    • Cathy

      Thank you, Jean. I am trying!

Cathy Rigg Headshot

Hi. I’m Cathy.

This is a blog about writing, creative living, and grace in the everyday. It’s my hope this little spot on the internet will be for you a place of quiet and reflection, a source for inspiration, and a reminder there’s beauty all around—we simply need to keep our hearts open to see it. Thank you for being here with me.

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