Luggage, prayers, and God’s presence

As a traveling teacher of spirituality, I seek to be aware of God’s presence and to help others find that awareness. Yet, the Lord surprises me often with how He shows Himself.

Soft bags and trolleys

For years, I’ve been using a soft, un-wheeled carry-on with a separate trolley. My computer (and sila) laptop can fit inside. The system gives me tremendous flexibility with how to carry stuff and meeting airline regulations for space and weight, but it’s unbalanced and heavy to wheel in an airport, and other people always mishandle it when they try and “help” me with my luggage. It’s also awkward to take up and down stairs to small aircraft and nearly impossible to get into an overhead bin by myself.

So, I’ve looked for years–sometimes in a concentrated way, sometimes casually–for an integrated wheeled solution. It would have to be something big enough for my (small amount of) stuff, but very small to fix all airline regulations, and under 4lbs. A top brand name, and high quality for constant use. I have, quite simply, examined pretty much all the major brands, every line of every brand, online, in airport stores, camping/backpacking stores, luggage stores, everywhere, including watching what other travelers bring. Besides never finding the “right” bag I was wary of airline restrictions to one bag.

Recently even the budget airlines have started to allow two carry-on bags (sometimes for a very small extra fee) and I’ve again opened up to the possibility of an integrated wheeled bag that is the right size and weight, but figured such is just not to be found and was not actively looking. At all.

When we arrived at Luton airport in London and took our stuff out of the car’s trunk (boot), my trusty and super solid high grade trolley of many years was broken. It was falling apart. I could only open it part-way, which meant leaning over to wheel my bags, and the handle was barely hanging on. Luton is a smallish airport, and some airports don’t have shops for luggage, what to speak of luggage trolleys. But, after security, we magically had time to spare after arriving late at the airport due to heavy traffic, and there was a luggage store. They had a trolley–not a fourth as good of quality as the one now broken, but a trolley.

A perfect integrated bag

On an off-chance I asked to see lightweight wheeled carry-on, and….. there it was. Only 1.7kg, and small enough for all airline restrictions. All my stuff fit in with room to spare, and I could loop my backpack onto the handle. Decent price. Good brand. I measured it, and it was *smaller* than the measurements listed. (Usually bags are bigger than what is listed.) I never would have purchased it had I only found it online, as I would have thought it too big. [When I searched for the bag online today it was only “findable” if I typed in the exact name. It was not findable in a general search, nor even under the general brand name. I would never have found it online at all, nor known how suitable it was if I had found it.] The impossible found. Took the leap and got it. What a pleasure to handle it through the airport, up the stairs to the budget airline, into the overhead bin, and even how I could arrange my stuff inside was very good. Then, this morning, I remembered that……

Answered prayers and a playful God

After I had purchased the bag, on the plane, I read Bhagavatam, Caitanya Caritamrita, Krishna book, and one of Rupa Goswami’s books. Then I spent some time reading a Christian book about prayers that are always answered. (I try to, at least sometimes, in my reading time include material from education, leadership, counseling, and various religious systems, in addition to my guru’s books and the books of the teachers in the line I follow). The author suggested that a prayer to feel God’s presence is always answered, often by having something happen that does not have a good rational explanation. I really appreciated the mood and logic of the author–really, really good stuff about how God is about relationship rather than conceptions of argument and logic.

So, I focused and prayed as he advised and then, as often happens with such prayers, let go and immediately forgot that I had prayed like that. This morning I realized that my prayer had been answered *before I prayed it.* I just had to be aware. Indeed, I was aware when the trolley broke that there was something loving behind it from God personally, and I was aware of God’s presence and hand in the luggage shop. But I wasn’t aware until this morning that my prayer was granted before I prayed it.