The Things We Carry

by Carol Kelly

There is a woman at Columbia University carrying her mattress around with her everywhere she goes. Yes, her mattress. She is doing this to make a statement that when a college student has been sexually assaulted,as she has, something should actually happen to the perpetrator. Instead, he is free to keep coming to classes and she is vulnerable, humiliated, hurt, alone and without a means for protection. Instead of sympathy or empathy, she has been continually harassed, threatened and ridiculed by people who do not want to see her pain.

Each one of us carries burdens, some of them very great. Sometimes we are asked to carry more than seems possible. Sometimes this is outward, like the  people carrying their groceries at the bus stop. More often, the things we carry are hidden from the world, and we just bear them.

I am thinking of Jesus, carrying His cross, after being beaten, humiliated, spat upon and crowned with thorns. He bears this burden not for Himself, not for anything He did, but out of pure love. That is what pure love looks like: Silently and humbly bearing burdens for others.

That was a turning point. The cross He carried is now an internal one, which each of us carries: shoulder and spine. We carry our burdens and ourselves well – or not – depending on our purpose. It makes all the difference in the world how we think and feel about what we are given to carry.

Is there a purpose for all that we do?

What is the way of acceptance?

Interestingly, Yoga and Pilates have had a great surge of popularity in the last 40 years or so. These body exercises work specifically to lengthen and strengthen the spine! They actually help us to bear our burdens in a healthy way, physically and even psychologically. So how do we bear our burdens spiritually? We can still go about our day doing the very same work, doing the very same things, but the whole world changes when we are able to see the larger picture, the Divine plan in all of it. The Divine has a way of revealing itself to us when we look for it. Can we break through to a vision of ourselves as participating in making the world better for humanity. If we can, we will experience: Taking up our cross, willingly, is transforming the world with love.

Carol Kelly is a priest in the D.C. area of the Christian Community, a movement for religious renewal.  Find out more here or here


One thought on “The Things We Carry

  1. Thank you, Carol, for bringing the body into the discussion of “The Things We Carry”. I’m so interested in how we can spiritualize our bodies and its many capacities as a living element of our biographies. The purpose to me of strengthening and toning our muscles and bones is to provide a conscious container for the spirit to move within us.

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