In college, my friend Sarah and I took a class on the Inklings, that wondrous group of English writers that included C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton. (Those men really liked their initials!) We were assigned (noticed I didn’t say I always read) Sir Gibbie, Gaudy Night, That Hideous Strength, The Lord of the Rings and more.
(In a rather comical underestimation of the time involved, Sarah and I actually tried to listen to the BBC recording of Tolkien’s trilogy. Several hours into book one, we abandoned that plan.)
While I loved the books, especially Lewis’s work, it was a lesson from one of the other books – which one I can’t remember now – that has stuck with me. It was the idea that we are to help bear one another’s burdens. In that class, Sarah and I made a commitment to do that for each other, and now more than 20 years later, we still do that. *
She came, went to the hospital for my procedure, and watched episode on episode of Lost with me after I miscarried. Talk about bearing one another’s burdens.
Last night, another friend picked up some of my burden when she paid the licensing fee for the use of Rhiannon Giddens‘ lyrics in my new novel, Silence at the Lock. The cost was beyond my means to cover, and she offered – as she has with so many other things in our family’s life – to help us pay the expense. I am overcome with gratitude to her.
I could keep listing the ways people have helped me bear my burdens – the friend I’ve never met who gifted us the jogging stroller they didn’t need, the kind souls who leave books in our Little Free Library, the neighbors who give us plants and overpay for eggs and vegetables, the grandparents who watch Milo often so this mother can work. The list is truly endless.
So today, my hope and prayer is that I have been at least one-tenth as good at helping other people carry their burdens as they have been at helping me carry mine. If I have done that, then I have done well.
May you each have all the help you need to foist the burdens of your days, and if I can be a part of that help, please, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
*Also, yes, this idea is in the Christian Bible, but I often grasp things more thoroughly in story than I do in sermons. You?