Did your mother carry a purse? My mother did. I remember all kinds of purses that she carried: large, small, one color, multi-colored, small straps, large straps. She would change out her purses a couple of times a year, usually in the Fall and the Spring. Whenever she left the house, it was always with her. It contained many things: her wallet (which had money, her driver’s license, other various store cards, pictures of us), a pen usually, a notepad or paper, tissues, maybe some gum, an artificial sweetener that she would put in her coffee, medications, eye glasses in an eyeglass case, grocery coupons and her grocery list, keys, and other miscellaneous items. Whenever she would ask me to get it for her, I remember thinking that it was like trying to pick up a piece of luggage! She must have had everything in there! However, it was a way to bring with her the essential items that she needed.
I read this story recently about Jesus. He was walking down the road with his disciples and some people were throwing stones at him and cursing him. Jesus just blessed them. The disciples asked him, “Why do you bless those who curse you?” Jesus replied, “I can only give what I have in my purse.”
As much as I would ask my mom if I could buy something expensive, she could only give me what she had in her purse. If I asked for a piece of gum, and she didn’t have any, then she couldn’t give me any. She could only give me what she had in her purse. As I reflect back on her and my father, I dig a little deeper into their purses and see what they carried - more than just those items listed above.
What items are we carrying around in our purse right now? Is it heavy with things like judgment, unforgiveness, anger, jealousy, distance, pride, stubbornness, hatred, stress? Or are we carrying around some lighter things - peace, reconciliation, forgiveness, joy, blessings, connectedness, love?
I can see my mom on certain days going through her purse and taking out the things that needed to come out of there. Taking out the things that have collected in there over time, the things that are garbage, the things that don’t need to be in there anymore. What would our day be like if we started it by imagining that we are a purse or some kind of vessel. It is empty. And scattered around it are all of these things - judgment, joy, anger, peace, jealousy, unforgiveness, reconciliation, hatred, blessings, stress, connectedness, love. Which ones are we going to pick up and put in our “purse” today? After all, we do have a choice as to what we will pick up.
As you put these items into your “purse,” you might add some pictures too - of yourself and others. What do you look like in light of what you just put into your purse? What do others look like? As I put anger into my purse, my self image becomes a bit distorted, and so does the picture of the person I am angry with. Is that really how we want to live, and give from our purse? If we can only give from what we are carrying around in our purse, then before we start our day, might we take the time to see what we want to put in our purse?