GROUNDED: EASY YOKE, LIGHT BURDEN

Easy Yoke, Light Burden.
By: Rebecca Garrett Pace, Minister of Worship & The Arts


“[Jesus says,] “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.” - Matthew 11:28-30

Apparently I have a reputation of being busy. I’m driven, punctual, and organized. Why schedule 1 thing when I can schedule 2 or 3? Even people who have only recently met me have a tendency to say, “you strike me as a person who’s always on the move.”
To give myself credit where it’s due, I have made great strides in this area. I have learned, the hard way, that I can’t just power through and expect my body to bounce back from not enough sleep, not enough water, and 60-hour work weeks. Over the last decade and a half I have gotten so, so much better at balance. I want to say that, because I think it’s important not to perpetuate the stereotype of the “Type-A, can’t-ever-rest, 1000-mph type person.” It’s not an either-or situation. I do believe you can be busy and still healthy.
Actually I find joy in being busy — when it’s a life-giving kind of busy. I love what I do. I love working. I love teaching music groups. I love writing. I am energized by you, our White Rock UMC community.

And yet, the practice of checking in with myself, of finding perspective, then losing perspective, then finding it again — this seems to be a practice I constantly need to refine.
I love these words from Jesus in Matthew 11. I love them because they honor work and rest. In balance. In harmony.

“My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” You see, putting on a yoke means you’re ready to work. Carrying burdens means you’re human, in relationship with other humans, and it’s hard work. It would be a very different passage if Jesus had said “take off all your yokes forever and don’t ever pick up any burdens ever again.”

There’s a balance — sometimes incredibly elusive, might I add — to be found between work and rest, between being busy and leaving margin. There are definitely more healthy ways to pick up those yokes and burdens, and more unhealthy ways to do so. There are yokes and burdens that bring energy and growth and joy, like teaching or singing or cooking or gardening. There are also yokes and burdens that are numbing — busying ourselves so we don’t have to face our own inner shadow side, our depression or anxiety or grief, our loneliness.
I admit, I don’t always carry that light burden and that easy yoke. I’m much more likely to try to Little-Red-Hen things, to hold the world on my own shoulders like Atlas, to try to soften the anxious thoughts or the relentless Enneagram-One voice telling me I’m the worst ever, than I am to do the real work of finding balance and health.
But I’ll keep at it. Will you join me?

There is a practice called Lectio Divina, or “divine reading,” that is centered around actively reading a short passage of holy text and, instead of just moving on, pausing and reflecting about what comes forward. It’s active — you are not just skimming and then mindlessly waiting for The Holy Spirit to bonk you on the head with her revelation. You read. You quiet yourself. You sit. You re-read. You think. You sit. And through this gentle, focused work, maybe you feel the Spirit show up, switching out some heavy yokes and burdens for some lighter ones.
  • Find somewhere you can sit or rest comfortably.
  • Read Matthew 11:28-30, printed at the beginning of this post, either aloud or silently to yourself.
  • Read it slowly. Notice what words catch your attention.
  • After reading, pause in silence for a minute or two (or longer, if you’re feeling adventurous!)
  • Read the verses again, perhaps pausing on the words you find meaningful.
  • Notice what images or thoughts, what memories or questions surface.
  • Pause in silence for another minute or two.
  • Read it once more, either aloud or silently.
  • Ask: “God, what might you be saying to me through these words, and the thoughts that they spark?”

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