Thursday, January 29, 2015

Weighed Down

As you might have noticed I have had a bit of writer's block lately when it comes to posting here. I have been searching for words and finally realized how weighed down I feel.  Some of this is winter which I have previously shared on this blog is the season I struggle with the most.  I hate being cold!  I also suffer from some Seasonal Affective Disorder so January and February are the hardest months - it is still pretty dark even though it is getting lighter, it is cold, and I have no desire to be outside.  Now I know for some of you winter is your favorite season - you love cold temps, snow and can't wait to get out into it.  Thank goodness because we need you!

So part of what I hate about winter is all the clothes I have to wear. Lately I have been feeling constantly cold so I am always wearing a couple of shirts, socks and slippers in the house.  In the evenings, my daughter and I lay cuddled up under a blanket on the couch. When I do have to leave the house, because you know I can't just take off for winter and stay inside all the time, I have to put on a coat and gloves.  I literally feel weighed down by all these layers.  When I spent my freshman year of college at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I wore long underwear under all my clothes - it was awful!  Hated the feeling of pants under my jeans!  Now I am not a nudist or one to go parading around without clothes but I love wearing a short sleeved top with capris or a skirt with sandals - perfect!  Now an occasional sweater or long-sleeve shirt with jeans - ie fall weather - is great too but this whole winter thing with long pants, socks, boots, a shirt, a sweater and then coats and gloves to leave the house - Ugh!

Now you might say but Margaret there are plenty of places to live and you chose to live in a place with cold winters and occasional snow.  Yes that is true because I love to live in places with four distinct seasons. I know that we need the cold and barrenness of winter to give rise to the beauty of spring, the rest that winter gives the fields to give rise to the abundance of summer,and that it is the cold that causes the leaves to turn all those amazing colors. Without the winter, the cold,  the barrenness, the greyness of winter - there is no amazing spring, the witnessing of the coming back to life of flowers, return of birds and geese and the abundance of summer fruits and vegetables.  Winter is an essential element for the beauty of spring, summer and fall.  Might it be that in our lives as well we need periods of barrenness, of cold, to give birth to even more beauty and joy?

The weighing down of course is also metaphorical and doesn't require cold weather.  I often get weighed down by fear, worry, anxiety, sadness.  I am weighed down by the responsibilities of supporting my family and wanting to do my very best for them.  When I look around and see so many people struggling I feel the weight of a country and world that privileges some while harming others. As I have been working at Food Lion one of the biggest things I have learned is how many people are struggling financially.  There are so many people receiving Food assistance, WIC or just counting the pennies to see if they have enough to buy their groceries. On the one hand it has made me feel so much less alone and on the other hand the reality of income inequality is manifested to me every single shift I work.  It is easy for me to feel weighed down not only by my own struggles but the struggles of our country.  

Two repeating themes in Scripture bring me comfort and challenge - Do Not be Afraid and Come to me and I will give you rest.  Do not be afraid and yet I am afraid much of the time. Less afraid then I used to be or maybe just more practice moving through the fear and doing it anyway.  So many of us are in need of rest, to put down our burdens and the burdens of the world and just be.  One of my favorite pop songs at the moment is Ghost by Ella Henderson and the chorus is: "I keep going to the river to pray; 'Cause I need something that can wash all the pain; And at most I'm sleeping all these demons away; But your ghost, the ghost of you;It keeps me awake."  I feel this song as I sing along to it.  I long to go to the river and wash all the pain away, to sleep and put the demons to rest and yes there is a ghost or ghosts that keep me awake, reminding me of the pain.  I struggle to trust and let go that the Holy is there, that I don't have to do it alone, that I am not alone.  I struggle to let the river wash away the pain, to set down the burden.  I struggle to accept the things I cannot change as it says in the serenity prayer and to have the courage to change what I can.  

How many of us are pushed to our knees praying that our pain be washed away?  Are you praying your pain be washed away?  Have you been pushed to your knees with the weight of life?  Can you set your burdens down and trust in the words of Julian of Norwich "That all will be well, all manner of thing shall be well"?   What ghost or ghosts keep you awake?  What is weighing you down in this season?  What helps lift the burden?

I don't have any answers, other than to keep moving through. Singing songs like "Ghost" at the top of my lungs in the car; letting myself sink to my knees in prayer and trust that I am being heard and to remind myself over and over again, "You Are Not Alone."  Also to remember that the barrenness of winter gives rise to the warmth and beauty of spring so to hold on long enough to let the seeds break open and give birth to new life.

Blessed Be.