"One of the advantages of age, at least as I am experiencing it, is that stuff doesn't matter nearly so much as I once thought, indeed, as I was reared to value it. Perhaps the great sin of relative affluence is the urge to hoard, to hold on tight if not to acquire more, telling ourselves that prudence like ours could never be greed.

"I haven't achieved Jesus' standard of material austerity yet, but I'm working on it. A few years ago it was a real pleasure to dump my grandmother's twelve-place setting of elegant china on my elder daughter. She got more than she bargained for, but she hasn't realized it yet. I'd dragged it around for fifty years without realizing what a burden it was. It couldn't go in the dishwasher, and when would I ever have twelve people trying to sit down at a table, which comfortably seats four? To be sure, I still hang on to my staff and an extra tunic. It seems foolhardy to let them go and who knows when they might come in handy?

"Harder still is letting go of the invisible, intangible impedimenta like envy, arrogance, neediness, and fear. Some of them are troubling, some of them feed my ego, some are there just because that's where they have always been. If you drag them with you long enough, you forget how heavy they are. You forget how to run, how to skip, even to walk briskly. You drag them along like Brecht's Mother Courage with her cart and eventually you even forget what it might be like to walk unimpeded.

"I comfort myself with the imperfection of the twelve. Like the rest of us, they too remained works in progress to the very end. Maybe I have just one more walk. Everything has been practice up to now."