An open window view over a green backyard bracing for fall. The trees gently sway as I listen to a Catholic audio meditation regarding Lectio-divina. The reader ask me to listen closely to a few lines of scripture. After setting the passage and the scene my eyes close and listen, and a few lines in I hear and pay close attention to the following:
“28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
During that last line a wind blew in and back out closing and opening the door behind me and my eyes. I see the wind departing as the early fall leaves settle down.
The reader continues, did any word or phrase leap out at you? A mystic might say yes, the Holy Spirit entered my house and passed over me as you said, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. For most of us, it was just a breeze, no more.
The reader continues with guidance on lectio-divina as I watch the trees and leaves remaining still. The reader ask us to listen a second time, and I close my eyes listening to Christ words as written in scripture.
Again, a gentle breeze blows in and out, at that exact phrase “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” At no other time during my reflection and prayer time are the leaves disturbed or wind pronounced.
The mystic says you have your proof Joseph. The cynic says your eyes and senses deceive you and your imagination mistakes coincidence for spiritual consolation.
Spiritual consolation or Spiritual imagination? It is unanswerable. But both identified the phrase “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
The contemplation that followed, the prayer and seeking understanding, followed by action is what is important. My personal struggles are not heavy relative to my brothers and sisters. My nations hypocrisy and moral failings are deeply concerning, but not imminently causing me great pain and suffering (except for the compassion and love I have for oppressed people of the world). And yet I feel my burden large and sometimes grossly unfair, fanned by righteousness and anger. My sin unveiled in an instant.
Without going into details, I have been given much to be grateful for, more than my individual merit and effort can account for given my limitations and grave errors over my life time. God has provided me a light burden, though at times, I felt the opposite.
Contemplatively, have I placed an undue burden on others? Do I expect to much from others to meet my expectations? Am I too quick to anger or to quick to judge when others fail me. Yes.
What I seek from God should I not be seeking to provide to others when I am able to do so?
At the end of the day, mystic or cynic, I have journeyed with Christ words and arrived at a raised consciousness of some traces of my spiritual sloth.
I am not called to disappear from the secular sphere of expectations, but I am called to know where that line ends between secular expectations and my Catholic orientation. There is a great terrain of higher demands for Catholics to live by that exceed secular law but should not be imposed on secular society. In fact, there is a great deal of Catholic values that my church and fellow believers hold to be true but do not ourselves demonstrate by practice (despite genuine effort and desire). My role calls for me to vote, to send a few dollars to political campaigns, and to have a reasoned and balanced voice. In place of anger, is sadness and compassion. In place of harboring negativity, harbor hope.
More close to home, double down on caring for others than chasing my own desires. Double down on the burden I place on others being light and when disappointed my response being compassionate and merciful. That is not to say to let go of expectations or responsibilities that others have, but to let go of justified anger and unnecessary drama.
In neither politics or our personal life are we called to be a door mat. We are called to be active and a living testament. That will place us with standing up for ourselves and our beliefs and shaping a dialogue of mutual respect and understanding.
One reading, one prayer, two breezes…..