There was once a man named Bill, who decided to go for a hike from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. A distance of about 2,000 miles. Six months of hiking, sleeping on the ground, and cooking meals outside.
So he went to a local outfitters and they laid out everything he would need, packed it all into a backpack, and strapped it on his back. It wasn’t exactly featherweight, but it was manageable.
Bill’s friend Stephen offered to come along on this journey with him. So he took Stephen to the same outfitters, and they got him equipped with the same 40-pound backpack of essentials for the hike.
But Stephen decided he needed to add more items for the journey. He decorated his pack with various footwear and cooking utensils, extra tins and boxes of food, and a huge shopping bag that was stuffed with who-knows-what-all and tied onto the top.
As they started off on the trail, Bill gazed eagerly at the beautiful scenery, breathed deeply in the fresh air, and enjoyed the feeling of freedom that surrounded them.
But the farther they walked, the more disgruntled Stephen became. He kept shifting the weight of his bulky pack. Soon he started muttering under his breath and then complaining quite loudly about his tired feet, his heavy load, his aching back, and the rough terrain.
Stephen added all those things because he thought they would make the journey more pleasant. Instead, they ended up being a hindrance.
Enjoying or Enduring
Homeschooling is a lot like a long hike. And the things that we carry with us can mean the difference between enjoying the journey or just enduring it.
We may start out taking just the things that are needful, but it’s so easy to add one more thing and then one more thing and then just one more, until suddenly we realize that all that More has become a hindrance and we are staggering under the weight of it all.
The more clutter we haul—in our schedules, our homes, and our children’s education—the less free we are to focus on what is most important: relationships. You see, when your backpack is weighed down with an overload of busyness or possessions or schoolwork, that burden soon becomes your focus, rather than those who are traveling the trail with you. Yet, if we are to have the same priorities that Jesus did, people should matter more than any activities, any things, or any information.
I invite you to step off the trail for a few moments and consider what is in your backpack. Lay it all out on the table and take a good look. And when you’re ready to repack, stop trying to fit it all in. Be selective. Leave some items on the table. Keep your load light enough to enjoy the journey, not just endure it. In the process you will find it easier to focus wholeheartedly on those who are walking beside you.
When More Is Less Resources
If you are looking for encouragement to keep things simple, to invest your precious time and energy in things that matter most, to relish the freedom of a lighter backpack, these two resources are designed to do exactly that.
The When More Is Less Workshop was recorded live as Sonya shared her heart on this topic a few weeks ago. Listen to it whenever you need friendly support along the path. Available as an audio CD or an audio download.
Our new 2015 Calendar Journal, When More Is Less, is designed to walk along the trail with you and give you gentle reminders all year long. A new article each month will offer ideas and practical suggestions based on Charlotte Mason’s writings and life.
This isn’t an appointment book for you to fill chockfull of all that you have to do. No! This is a personal journal to help you enjoy the view and keep the right focus as you continue your journey. In its pages you will find space for prayer requests, encouragement to list the titles of books you are reading, and lots of room to record your thoughts along the way.
The new 2015 calendar is available at special pricing through October 30.
May 2015 be a year of reducing the clutter and rediscovering joy in the journey!