A Well Ordered Bag.


Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of the classic The Little Prince, quips "He who would travel happily must travel light."

In most of the guidebooks I've read about the Camino, many references to bringing as little as possible in one's pack are continuous.

To that end, I've attempted to bring the necessities sorted by kit. Being of artist mind and body, the idea of sorting anything other than a row of colored pencils makes my brain lock up.

Enlisting the help of Fr. Ryan, who likely aced the shape and color sorting portion of his pre-seminary IQ test (oh, yeah, they think we don't know. But it's totally an IQ test to see where on the St. John Vianney to St. Thomas Aquinas spectrum of academic prowess we can be expected to perform), these kits are arranged into various (color coded!) stuff sacks.

The kits are, in no particular packed order:

  • Sleep/Shower Kit
  • Refugio (Hostel) Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • On the Trail Kit
  • Mass Kit

For this next bit, you'll need the following sound. I'll let you know when.

In addition to these kits, are the technology that I'll be taking along to document aspects of my journey. After owning a first generation iPad now slowing to a trickle of processor activity, I decided that a Christmastide upgrade this past December was in order. And so, (press play) I purchased a giant iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil, hoping that these devices would prove useful in lieu of my MacBook Pro for Camino-blogging.

I mean, the MacBook isn't heavy by 1982 standards, but in 2018, it's certainly possible to get the weight under 8 pounds for a device with a screen, keyboard, and logic board. So far, the iPad Pro has surpassed my expectations for ease of use while typing. The Apple Pencil is nearly akin to magic in being able to convey the spasmodic impulses of my drawin' hand. And so, even though it weighs 1.5 pounds, into a plastic bag it goes and is carefully added to my kit.

The Mass Kit, not pictured, has an alb and cincture, and a light chasuble and stole. I've got my wee travel chalice as well.

⚠️ Before you comment with "You've got too much stuff!  I've been a pilgrim for 58 years! I only carry my sandals and bath sponge and it's all you need!" let me say this: Admittedly, I'm a little over cautious for my first time following the little yellow arrows. Since these pictures were taken, I've thinned a few things out. Plus, think of what a great blog post this will make in a few weeks while you chuckle over your coffee!

Before actually taking to the well-traveled trail of northern Spain, it's so tempting to do what I am accustomed as an only child. Always prepared to entertain myself with paper, pencil, and book (and if I am honest, friends from my childhood would likely remark "an entire office supply store") in my trusty backpack, it really takes some serious thought to consider well what it means to travel light.

There are many accounts of pilgrims tossing items aside on the spot where it simply became too cumbersome to lug. In many ways, it is representative of throwing off the weight of possessions like the rich man in Scripture longing to attain the fullness of the Law and the Prophets. The rich man went away sad, for the security of his stuff couldn't bring him into contact with the spirit of all that God revealed through Moses and Elijah.

At present, my pack weighs in at about 30 pounds (minus the iPad), which, when polling the veterans of the Camino, either "is what only a crazy person would bring" or "isn't too bad". But, as I prepare to embark, I wonder what I'll be challenged to cast away.  I know what you're thinking. If Our Lord looks intently at me with love and knowingly glances down to my iPad, I'll probably ship it home rather than leave it WiFi-less on an outcropping of mossy rock.

That being said, my constant prayer in all of this is to shed what isn't essential so that Jesus may speak. Whether it's a shirt or extra-extra pair of socks or these blasted rain pants which are feather-light but sooo bulky, I want to hear His Spirit uttering what weighs down not just my pack, but my heart.

Psalm 139:23-24 comes to mind:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.