Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2
Cast your burdens upon the Lord and God will sustain you. Ps. 55:22
A Word of Hope
A companion poses a seemingly simple question: How are you doing? In the pre-covid era, most often we’d smile and flip off a “fine” and let it go. But now replying to that question is more of a challenge. “Doing OK, given all that we’re dealing with” is sometimes the quickest reply. And truly it can be exhausting to go too far down the road with a political rant or an injustice exhortation or a litany of losses.
A former colleague comes to mind. She would encounter you in the faculty lounge and ask how you were, her empathetic gaze inviting you to speak. If you were struggling at the time and started to share your problems, at the first pause, she’d interrupt and launch into a tale of her own woes—which, of course, were always worse than yours.
I don’t want to be that person who just waits for an opening to pour out my troubles on others—especially now when everyone has so much to bear. My closest companions are weighted down with serious illnesses or carrying the sorrow of multiple losses. I want to be there for them—with love and compassion, the time to listen, and when possible to offer something which might lift their heart, sustain their hope.
I know I am not alone. So sometimes I have stuffed feelings or just gone along telling myself: “It’s not that bad, given….” And perspective IS important. But keeping things inside for too long is unhealthy. So I remind myself (always) of gratitude. And nature’s healing beauty. And the love of a precious dog. And music. And exercise. And the honest intimacy of prayer as we cast our burdens upon the Lord—trusting that God will sustain us. And keeping covenant with monthly meetings with my spiritual “sister” where we help carry one another’s load.
Another aid, which you might not have encountered, is the daily practice called Morning Pages. Conceived by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way, they are” three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*–they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only.” Cameron calls it a “bedrock tool of creative recovery.” And how rich are the connotations for the word “recovery” here! https://juliacameronlive.com/basic-tools/morning-pages/
I think that during the long haul of the pandemic we’d be wise to follow the Benedictines and “begin again”– and again and again– building practices for resilience so that we can refill our reservoirs and hold one another’s burdens.
Grandmother God, Sometimes you are our beloved Burden Basket, carrying the weight too heavy for us to bear—and allowing us to “leave it outside” so that we do not mar the harmony of another’s household. For this and so much more, we thank you. We thank you. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon