When Ed Heygood and Stan Grayson dropped their fishing lines into Tranquility Bay, Ed pulled up a grungy old backpack. They pulled away the seaweed and wiped off the mud. It had obviously been in the water a long time. Inside they found a lot of money that became the subject of speculation and more around Dinkel Island. Much of the story in Return of Bliss turns around that issue.
I thought about that recently when our church was collecting backpacks for students at a nearby elementary school. What those backpacks will contain is books, paper, pencils–and maybe even someone’s lunch–things needed to function during the school day. The old backpack at Dinkel Island contained not only the money, but deteriorated items of clothing, and what appeared to have been paper tablets all smushed together. What had once been something functional for someone, had now became a curious mystery.
It occurs to me that all of us have backpacks that we carry around–figuratively speaking. Our “backpacks” are sometimes referred to as “baggage.” They include attitudes, painful memories, difficult encounters, failures, fears, and all sorts of unfinished business. Those things easily spill out with harmful results for us or others.
The backpack Ed and Stan discovered in the bay was filled with residue from someone’s loss, perhaps involving hardship or suffering. The backpacks we’re collecting at church will have helpful items needed to help a child in school. Perhaps it’s helpful to search our own “backpacks,” take stock of their contents, and weed out the stuff that’s negative and harmful. Maybe we can replace some of that with new spiritual resources. Maybe we can even become stronger persons through the process. It’s worth a try!