One of the hardest things we do on the path of wisdom is to discover we are not all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise. From the time we are born, we are learning. It might be good, positive lessons, not so good, or, most likely, a mixture of both. As we get older we hopefully begin to separate the good from the not so good. We learn that there are lessons we need to relearn and others we simply need to forget.
One of the most important lessons is we are not meant to carry the mountains we climb. Each of us deals with challenges, struggles, and difficulties. Some navigate incredibly tough paths because of what they endured as children, adolescents, and adults. The climb to the top of the mountain, to overcome these negatives is a great success. However, once the top is reached the question is asked; “What now?” When all you’ve known is pain and heartache it becomes a part of you. Reaching the mountain top doesn’t bring the joy and relief expected.
Unfortunately, some, instead of descending the mountain and continuing on with the journey now free of great burden pick up the mountain and carry it with them. The mountain has become a part of them and to separate from it is like breaking off a piece of themselves and leaving it behind.
Wisdom teaches us how to climb, how to descend and how to let go. It may still feel we are leaving part of ourselves behind but we trust our journey will take us to a place, a discovery of our new selves.
The fellowship hall which belongs to one of the two churches next to our house had a new roof put on yesterday. As I was doing yard work they were working under the hot sun with no hope of shade. A truck pulled into the parking lot full of shingles and the driver began unloading. After he finished another man grabbed a bundle of shingles, positioned them on his shoulders and carried them up the ladder to the workers on the roof.
Watching this man and the way he handled the shingles and the ladder you might think he would be broad and muscular but actually, he was smallish in size. However, the way expert way he handled the shingles let you know he’d been doing this type of work for a while.
Impressed with his agility and strength I reflected on the burdens that people carry. Mother Teresa once famously said; “I know God says; ‘He wouldn’t give us more than we could handle.’ I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”
Size, age, education, talent, and all the accolades the world holds dear doesn’t necessarily equal great faith or perseverance. It’s the elderly woman we pass in the grocery store, the young man with the earring in his nose, the middle age woman with a tear in her eye, the man holding the door open for strangers, who carry burdens too heavy for most of us.
They are able to do this not because they are stronger but have been doing it longer.
Carry On –
This afternoon I walked into a local convenience store to grab a few 2 liters of soft drinks for a celebration I was attending. Because I was in a hurry I didn’t grab a grocery cart and figured I would carry the drinks to the check-out. I grabbed the 2 liters and headed to the front. Unfortunately for me one of the lanes was closing and I was stuck awkwardly holding the drinks while those in front of me were purchasing their items. The drinks were getting HEAVY and because of the way I was holding them I was worried about dropping if I tried placing them on the floor. Finally, I was second to next in line and the man being checked out only had a few items. I asked if I could put the drinks on the counter? “Sure,’ he said, ‘no problem.” I did and it was such a relief to put down the drinks, stretch my arms out and breathe an exasperated sigh at my impatience at not grabbing a grocery cart. I checked out and the cashier placed the drinks in a couple of plastic bags which made it easier to carry.
This evening I am thankful for the young man who let me place my burdens down even though it wasn’t my turn and he could have refused. I’m thankful for lessons, over and over, which help me see hurriedness and mindlessness lead to nothing but pain and exhaustion. Lastly, I am thankful for those I’ve met on my path who have taught, are teaching, me to carry burdens in a different, better, healthier way that allows me to keep going and not lose my way or what I treasure.
A few weeks ago my riding lawn mower stopped working. I quickly exhausted my limited knowledge of what could be wrong and knew it needed to go to a mechanic. To get to the shop I would also need a way to transport it. I wasn’t sure if it would fit in the bed of my mid-size truck so I retrieved a tape measure and discovered the mower wouldn’t quite fit. To get it where it needed to go I would need help. I called a friend who graciously offered to bring his trailer over this morning and transport it for me.
Reflecting on the blessing of my friend’s generosity I also thought of the truth that we need each other to sometimes help us carry our burdens. Being willing to bless one another by offering what we can, when we can and doing all we can, we’re able to get where we need to go… together.