Saturday, July 16, 2011

AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST


The other day I printed out the manuscript (AGAIN) of Stripped: Cancer, Culture, Conscience, and the Cloud of Unknowing: the book over which I've been toiling, on and off, for ten years about my bout with illness, the medical system, and death.

At last! I thought. I will read it straight through and it will be PERFECT!  Of course there'll be a few minor grammatical mistakes but I'll fix those right up and send the damn thing off, FINALLY, to my agent!

By the first paragraph I was moaning No! I need to change that back again!, and Chapter Two was  a complete mess. Right after that, I read Chapter Three. And right after that, my back began aching really, really, bad, like someone had just strapped a big load of cinder blocks to it.

The very next day, I opened to the daily liturgy and read:

"Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light"...[Matthew 11:28-30].

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE CHURCH
SURROUNDED BY HOLLYHOCKS
TAOS, NEW MEXICO

We are all heavy burdened. Even little schoolchildren nowadays, you see carrying these gigantic backpacks, like burros. And I'm not even mainly talking of course about physical burdens. I myself took so many burdens upon myself as a child, that by the age of twelve, I was tired. I needed a drink. Then there were the twenty years of working like an indentured slave for booze money. Then came sobriety and the incessant inner work of keeping myself in shape so I don't pick up a drink, or a drug, or a revolver...

Anyway, notice how Jesus doesn't say "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy burdened and I will take your burdens away."

He doesn't say, "I will carry your burdens for you."

He says I will give you rest. He says I will teach you how to carry your burdens in a new way. With my yoke, the yoke of love, not the yoke of the world that loads you up with burdens, and makes you carry them by yourself, and meanly puts potholes in your path, and lashes and spits at you, and you never get anywhere. 



"Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart." Meek doesn't mean being a doormat; meek means showing up and giving everything we have but remembering that "the Father doeth the works." [John 14:10] Meek means remembering that we have friends and that in the end, they are pretty much all that matter.

And of course, there's always music.

Are You Tired of Me, My Darling

9 comments:

  1. Heather,

    Thank you for this beautiful post. Please pray for a friend of ours who has been told by doctors that his cancer is terminal (he has been battling the disease for two years). Our friend's name is Scott. His wife is a devoted Catholic. They have two teenaged boys.

    God bless,
    David

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  2. Absolutely, David--I'll be driving today and that'll give me a special chance to hold your friend Scott in prayer...

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  3. Thanks, Heather. I appreciate it.

    Scott's wife, Sarah, would love your blog, if she had the time to read it. I also think that she would like the book that you're writing about cancer and the medical system.

    David

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  4. Heather, thank you for your so very inspiring and most needed words of Christ. I have only just found your blog and I read it most every day.
    I too am a recovering alcoholic, these past 5.5 years and it's of course not always as it should be. But those words of Christ rebound in my brain and my heart, I needed to read them and to remember that I can take a rest from my earthly anxieties and just let go and let God.
    I forget this so much, but with God's help I always seem to find Him in my heart when I most need him, in one way or another.
    Your pictures are very beautiful; I notice you always seem to catch the most beautiful flowers and cosmic creations of God.

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  5. Hi ,
    I loved this post. I guess you have a consistent blog somewhere. Please enlighten me as to where I might find it. Yeah I know I could probably google it, or had it and lost it (sounds like me) but when you get a chance...

    I'm saving all your emails and posts so when you're really as famous as you should be, I can sell them for money! Just kidding.
    Love you sweet one.
    Dianne

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  6. Di, thanks! So glad to hear from you...just go to shirtofflame.blogspot.com, which is the main blog and you will find MONTHS' worth of such stuff...

    Judy as well, welcome. "it's of course not always as it should be"...UNDERSTATEMENT! And yet...it is somehow as it is, messy, paradoxical, funny (if we're lucky), human..and that is just where we meet Christ...

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  7. Heather,
    Thank you once again for another blog entry to encourage me through yet another set of life's trials. "Tired" is right! I particularly loved your reflection about meekness, points I have only recently begun to discern for myself. I am quoting you at length in "FB land." God bless you! Praying for you and your vocation!
    Lee

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  8. Beautiful and peaceful photos.
    You did it again, Heather.
    You wrote what I need to read and hear. Please have a safe journey.

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  9. Great post, Heather. I find this theme and Jesus' words keeping popping up for me in unusual places this summer - a sure sign for me to pay attention! Our priest also said during the homily on this reading that a yoke balances the load between the oxen. One cannot forge ahead of the other. We need to remember to yoke ourselves to Jesus and not race ahead of God's plan for our lives. When we yoke ourselves to Jesus, we're in step with him.

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