I woke up yesterday in a state that would be called cranky if I were a toddler. I knew what had caused it: I’d had a relapse of belief in the old vengeful god of retribution, who wasn’t coming through and zapping people on my schedule. Absent this god, I had to carry all the hellfire and brimstone around myself. I was Jonah, sitting outside Ninevah, wanting to see my enemy destroyed and mad because God was being merciful, just as I’d suspected all along he would turn out to be (Jonah 4).
Fortunately, it was the day I was scheduled to see my spiritual director, my soul friend, Bobbi. (She’s described part of her job as “bearing witness,” a term I like. We all sometimes feel as if our lives and contributions are invisible; I can take to Bobbi anything—good or bad—that I want to be noticed.) The fragrance of spring was in the air at her place, where many things are growing. She greeted me and announced her own longing for spring—pansies waiting to be planted sat in her kitchen sink.
I dumped out the anger and the frustration I felt over my inability to control others’ lives or decisions. She listened and then asked gently, “Would you like to let that go, Judy?”
It reminds me of one of my favorite healing stories, when Jesus acknowledges the cries of a blind man and asks him, “What do you want?” Jesus doesn’t assume the obvious, knowing that sometimes we’re just not ready to let go of blindness or a desire for vengeance. I can carry a loaded backpack of self-righteousness for a long way on the trail.
I’d been carrying this anger for several days, though, and I wasn’t much enjoying my own company. The day before I’d read from Psalm 81, which is a recounting of the deliverance from Egypt, God’s words, “I eased his shoulder from the burden; his hands were set free from bearing the load.” I’ve so often applied that verse to my life as being about leaving fundamentalism or becoming a freelancer. I think it’s true about those Big Things, but also true about the “little” things that over time become an unbearable weight. Bobbi helped ease that overloaded pack off my tired shoulders. Like the external world turning to spring, my heart’s world has shifted on its axis, and I am glad.