Holding Each Other Close

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now…It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart…” (Philippians 1)

Recently while visiting with an aging mentor and saint I was reminded of life’s most important spiritual work. This friend is and will be immobilized for some time. Asking her a bidding question about the frustration she might be feeling, she replied “Yes” and then “But….” and continued on for some time about the “But”. At the heart of it was her realization of what she called “my most important spiritual work” that she was doing from her bed. “I have time and space to join my heart to the joy and struggle of others” is what she said. She can’t get up. Her eyes make reading tough. Lots of time on her side.

She might have written a little devotion that I have earmarked for decades, from a little book that’s wearing out and packs a punchThe Art of Pastoring: Contemplative Reflections by William Martin. Though intended for pastors, it hits the nail on the head for all of us christians. Thought 43 of his goes this way:

How would you pastor if you could not speak? How would you love others if you were immobilized in bed? If you can answer these questions, you know the truth of your calling. If you can do these things, you will overcome all obstacles.

Since my visit, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I might do that work more in the midst of a busy and noisy life filled with movement and racing the clock. It’s the age old juxtaposition of doing-vs-being. Often it seems that my most important work of tending to spirit things — God’s Spirit, my own, and those who I love — falls to the bottom of my over-extended life’s priorities. Unless I am bedridden, I must be intentional about stopping, and being still, and letting my life go SO THAT I can become aware of the anxieties and burdens you are bearing, SO THAT I can hold you in my heart and prayers.

Paul says it so beautifully all ver his letters to the early church, called to be a community of care.I love his image of “carrying others in his heart”, and of “Bearing each others burdens”. Who wouldn’t run toward a community like that?

But for most of us, running through life, it’s a challenge. So join me in making time and space to care for each other in our prayers, in our hearts, and in the practical acts of caring that surely will follow.

On my way out the door, my friend asked for a list of church members and friends in large print font, which she now has. Who knows, but maybe as you read this she is holding you in her heart on this very day.

God bless us, one and all!

Peter Hawkinson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s