I am the father of five children. I have walked alongside my wife through each those pregnancies, massaging her back, helping with chores, helping her get up off of those unbelievably low slung couches that seem to be in just about every living room I’ve ever sat in. I felt a deep compassion for the limitations that my wife endured while pregnant. Though I was there to care for and help her through the changes, she was carrying the heaviest burden that left nothing in her life untouched.
It was always astounding to watch Somau Garia women come and go from the village–leaving the village with a little laundry and a few pots, returning late in the day with quite a different burden. Often, a line of women could be seen traversing the soccer field with multiple layers of string-bags called bilum slung over their heads, filled to capacity. On the bottom, a full load of garden food. On top of that a load of fire wood. On top of that the cleaned cooking pots. On top of that laundered clothing. And on top and outside, a baby, swaying back and forth, rocked to sleep on the long walk home. All of them suspended from the woman’s forehead by the strap of the bilum.
The burdens most of us carry don’t show so much as these. The only signs of our burdens are a telling look of tiredness in the eyes, a slump of the shoulders and a defeated stride in our walk. Perhaps it shows in a sigh behind a closed door or a desperate prayer uttered in the middle of the night. In our times of desperation, defeat, and troubled hearts, we have a place to go to bring light into our darkness, strength to our sagging spirits, boldness to our eyes: the Word of God (and prayer, of course). Most of us have the Word of God in the language of our heart, in several versions, translated for different groups of people (like children, new readers, highly educated, literal, free . . .). We can pick up our Bible in the watches of the night and find truth to correct our false perceptions. We can pick up our Bibles and find hope. We can also find passages like Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We can lay our burdens upon the One who carried our burdens, our sins, our troubles, our transgressions, our punishment. We can find rest from the burdens.
What of those who do not have the Word in their heart language? What do they do with those hidden burdens that are much harder to see? Where do they go in the watches of the night? At noonday? What do they do to find respite and refreshment? Can we help them?
Thank you for your prayers and support!