It occurs to me that with the arrival of November we begin the holiday season (Halloween through New Year). This wind-up can become frantic with preparations for the celebrations and happenings: dinners, school events end of year reports parties, shopping, family gatherings - the list is nearly endless. With all of our busy-ness we will also be turning our clocks back at the beginning of the month (11/3 DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME ENDS). Darkness will descend upon our lives once more and I find myself dreading this shift more than previous years.
For now, I am delighting in the senses of autumn: the pumpkin spice found in everything, the crunch of crisp leaves on trails as I walk the dog, the smell of a fall rain, and the sight of the red, orange and yellows that still dress the trees. I celebrate the beauty of the now, even as I am acutely aware of how these signs herald the coming darkness of winter. Even now I am anticipating the preparation for the arrival of Christ our Light.
Our adult book study, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life by Joanna Wever, continues. We are almost halfway through. Recently we had a good discussion about burdens. We read a story about a wagon and rocks; later we were encouraged to picture our own wagons and what kind of rocks we are toting around. Understanding the rocks as responsibilities, many answered: work, family, home duties, church duties, other duties. These responsibilities can tire us out and take up a lot of time to be sure. There is a difference though, between a responsibility and a burden. What are the burdens in your life that you are carrying around? You may be keenly aware of their weight or nearly breaking your metaphorical back everyday and wondering why everything is so HARD. Responsibilities are real – we are not called to remove ourselves from family and community and to turn our backs on the world – that type of living is a different call for monks and hermits. So, then, what are our burdens – and how do we remove them? Burdens present themselves innocently enough on our journeys – we gather them from time to time, and in varying amounts - they can keep on coming, again and again. We pick them up through normal interactions with others and sometimes we never put them down. These burdens are known to us a anger, shame, and guilt.
Now sometimes, they are known by their close friends’ names: frustration, worry, embarrassment, and regret, but they are really the same. God does not call us to carry these burdens; in fact we are encouraged to lay down our burdens - at the riverside, at the feet of our savior, at the cross. Can we though? Can we let them go? They can sometimes be helpful and offer us strength or courage, or commitment. We can become stronger by carrying these burdens, but we are not meant to bear them forever, always increasing our load. I encourage you to consider your burdens and to turn to God in prayer. Thank God for having the strength to carry them this far and intentionally ask to lay these down. Imagine yourself removing these burdens from your load. Repeat this as often as necessary. Read Matthew 11:28: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. New Living Translation.