“If you are looking for a baggage storage service to take care of your luggage while you are out and about around London you have come to the right place when you come to Paddington Station. “When you arrive you can take a walk down to Platform 12 where you will find our Left Baggage Paddington service. Here you will be able to leave your luggage in our capable hands allowing you to further enjoy your London trip.”[i]
It had once been a splendid steamer trunk, bright blue with brass hinges, brass corner caps, and a brass lock. But it has seen better days, the blue is faded and dingy, the brass badly tarnished, and one of the brass corner caps is missing. Now it sits abandoned in left luggage in Left Luggage on Platform 12 at Paddington Station waiting to be reclaimed by someone who no longer wants or needs its musty contents and is perhaps embarrassed both by the sad contents, the rags and trash of a former life, and even more embarrassed by having packed it, brought it, and abandoned it.
When the steamer trunk has gravitated from left luggage to unclaimed luggage the Stationmaster flips through his great ring of keys, finds the right one and with a twist snaps the lock open. Over the years the Stationmaster has opened many abandoned trunks; there are rarely any surprises. This trunk, like many others, was stored in left luggage towards the end of a long trip. What does the Stationmaster find? Dirty laundry! Dirty socks, dirty underwear, dirty shirts, dirty trousers; and adding a distinct aromatic bouquet, dirty sneakers.
What do you have in your old spiritual steamer trunk? "Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the dragons[ii] and the owls, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people”[iii]
For us, the trunk doesn’t just go away. There is no spiritual Paddington Station Left Luggage; instead we just go around dragging the trunk behind us. It needs to be unpacked and the Stationmaster, Jesus Christ, does do laundry. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[iv] All those old images of the aging Old Year being replaced by an infant New Year were false. Now half way through the Lent many are dragging behind them that old steamer trunk filled with last year’s memories and the memories of years before, all pressed down and shaken together. It takes an act of will, a surrender of the right to open the trunk before the old can actually be made new.