Laying down and taking up burdens. NEYM Pt 1
As I sat with this some more, it appeared to me that the question arose from a truncated view of the spiritual life. As we begin our spiritual journey we carry many burdens that come from the pain and injuries that we have received in the course of our lives. The first part of our journey is to find the healing that allows us to lay those burdens down. The progressive laying down of burdens of pain and sin is a lifetime process. But at some point there is a change. We have healed and grown enough that we start getting burdens offered to us. These are the burdens of the concerns that we come under that shape our spiritual life's work. They are the ways in which we turn our healing and our growth into gifts for the larger community. There is a sense of rightness about undertaking these things that makes the work bearable. They provides a focus that allows us to let go of things that we are not called to. They are the way in which we find our place in the body of Christ. Sometimes we are carried and held in the work in a way that it seems effortless. Other times it is still hard work. The yoke may be easy – meaning that it fits comfortably and doesn't chafe or hurt – but sometimes the load is heavy. You do not need a yoke to carry something light. You need a yoke to carry something heavy and bulky. Of course a yoke implies that you are not working alone. Oxen are yoked in tandem, so part of taking on the yoke is knowing that you will have help. But there is still work to do.
It seems to me that many Friends seem to think that the spiritual life consists exclusively of the first part, of the laying down of our personal burdens. We do not talk so much about the second part of the journey where we take up the burdens of the work that God would have us do. Do we like to stay at the level of Quakerism 101? Are we reluctant to move on the higher level courses? Where is Quakerism 322 or 453? Where are the graduate courses? In our meetings do we even acknowledge the advanced curricula in the school of Christ? Are we content to welcome newcomers and provide them with a basic introduction to Quakerism and let them find their way after that or do we demonstrate and teach the challenges and joys of living a life of faithfulness? Do we demonstrate that we are finders or do we wish to remain seekers forever?