we don't know
“Did that really just happen?”
Jane and I were driving home after a weekend of gathering with friends. It was more than just a get together though. It was the launching of a ship into the sea, the first miles out past the point of no return. The sense of relief caught us both by surprise, the intensity of the emotion overwhelming us as we drove home.
We all carry burdens as we move through this life. There are the big hits yes, the things that drop heavily on us like a sack of wet mud, that threaten to immediately overwhelm us. But we’re conscious of these things and do our best to slough them off as soon as possible. Their presence is evident and undeniable.
Then there are the things we slowly accumulate, gathering as we go, quickly accommodating and then forgetting. Gradually the collective weight slows every step, rounding our shoulders and spine. We accept the burden unconsciously, believing it to be normal, even necessary.
And here’s the thing. We all have burdens to be bear.
A 100% burden-free life is a mirage, a dangerous illusion that keeps us from good things like connection and growth and empathy. But equally as dangerous is the deceit that we must carry these things alone, that the accumulated crust of burdens is something to be attended to in isolation, never examined or sorted or shared.
When it does happen, when we come, shockingly, to see the weight of these accumulated burdens not as inevitable, not as permanently bolted on us, it’s nothing short of a miracle. That’s what happened to us this weekend. Our friends helped us name and sort our burdens, then took specific steps to share them with us, lightening our load in a way that left us dizzy with gratitude.
All this is, of course, a gift undeserved, a watershed of grace that cannot be earned or purchased, only wished and waited for. And sometimes even when we are longing for it, it surprises us when it comes, and we are overwhelmed in the wake.