Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Easing Up

I heard an unfamiliar voice saying, “I eased his shoulder from the burden; his hands were set free from bearing the load.”
Psalm 81:6

The psalmist is recounting Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, where the people carried literal heavy loads. Most of us, in our 24/7, listmaking, hyperproductive culture bear heavy loads in both our jobs and families. We work really really hard most of the time. Even vacations have ceased to be time off; we may leave physically, but we take our electronic devices and remain tethered.
            I’m tired this week—mostly psychically, waiting for spring and getting yet another snowfall as we trudge through Lent. Understand me: I don’t ever want to deal with cancer again. That said, there were perks. Cancer and other serious illnesses allow us to slip from under the load, feel the regular burden eased off our shoulders, though cancer carries its own set of burdens.
            During treatment, I found that people didn’t expect much of me. The one exception was in my professional life, but that was a blessing, familiar standards amid a new life. My editor, no fool, even sent back material for me to rework on occasion, just as she always had. Other than that, all I had to do was breathe and people were pleased. I got more compliments during treatment than I had in my entire life. I think the kind words were code for “You’re still alive!” My indifferent housekeeping, my multiple naps each day, were not causes for cries of non-productivity.
            Getting better as the chemo left my system meant taking up some of the burdens again. I’m back to working two, sometimes three jobs, trying to make ends meet. But I let go of tasks that had become onerous. Life is too short. In recovery, we need to be gentle with ourselves still. Eat good food, make time to rest, concentrate on what is truly important to us. Allow God to ease the burdens from our shoulders, to free our hands from the heavy loads.

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