Today I decided to take a walk after spending much of my Saturday glued to my laptop doing my assignments for the counseling course I am taking. I was antsy to finish my workload for two reasons. One, there is this show on Netflix called, Major Crimes that I thoroughly enjoy and I allow myself to watch an episode as a treat every time I finish my work and the other, the sun was out today!!! This week has been rather dreary and the impending gloomy long winter nights that are just around the corner make me want to spend every spare moment taking walks outside!
Well, I finished my assignment and between watching Netflix or taking a walk, I chose the walk. I wasn’t really particular of where I was going, I just let my feet wonder, I found a spot by the lake and sat, soaking in the warm rays and for the hundredth time I wondered…how does an African end up somewhere the sun will soon stop shining by 3:30 in the afternoon?
A lady starts talking to me, I recognize her as one of the ladies whose baby I took pictures of when she had her boy dedicated. I am completely taken aback that she is talking to me and sharing so much, to say we are acquaintances would be stretching it! I sit and just listen, sometimes there are pockets of silence other times I distract her by drawing her attention to the antics of two dogs near us that are starring up a tree at a chipmunk that they so desperately want to catch but until they grow a pair of wings, that’s just not going to happen. We chuckle as we watch the chipmunk chew on something orange in peaceful contentment.
The small breaks of laughter help as what she is sharing is heavy. I remind myself, often people don’t want advise, they just want to be heard, so listen. She talks some more. Like a wood carver painfully crafting a piece of art, she chips away at the block of wood and slowly an image is formed. Its not beautiful, it is sad, painful and frightening to behold but it is her life. Her story. She talks for over an hour, repeating some truths over again maybe unknowingly stressing to herself how important I had to understand that particular truth. I listen some more and ask the odd question.
Now that the artist has carved this image for me, now that I have this image in my hands, I wonder, what do I do with it. To look for too long at the tears, the brokenness, the pain and the death that polish off the image to give it its final look makes me feel like a moth being drawn to a flame. We all know how that ends. So I take careful looks but don’t stare too long. As she talks, occasionally I look at the yellow leaves cheerfully brightening up the blue sky to remind myself that even in someones darkest moments, surely there is hope out there.
I cling to hope, in the last year I have come to appreciate it so much. It is my life line, my buddy and on those days my buddy is not with me, life is a horrible existence. The ladies life is currently devoid of hope. I know what that feels like in bite sizes, I pray I never feel the overwhelming tsunami of hopelessness that so many I have come to know struggle with everyday.
This attitude that Christ calls us to have, “help carry other peoples burdens,” is no easy task, unless one gets to choose what burdens they want, which in real life rarely happens if you have set your mind to live a life like Jesus. This burden bearing reminds me to constantly go back to the teachings of Christ that always encourage me, I am not alone and even as I help shoulder someones heavy memories, I can turn to Jesus and he will do the same for me, breathing hope into my heavy laden heart and giving me the strength to go out there and be unafraid of chance encounters like todays.