In today’s gospel, we read: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Mt 11:28-30). One of the key points of this passage is “learn” – not only what one learns, but from whom one learns the lessons and wisdom.
At a point in time, back in the day, my camping experience was limited to an overnight or possibly two. Mostly local stuff in Virginia or West Virginia. I remember having fun, enjoying it all, but I always felt like I needed a day to recover. Perhaps it was the infrequency of carrying a load, the hiking, and all that goes with the adventure, but come Monday, there was always a stiffness about my neck, arms, shoulders, upper back and all the rest that is connected to those parts. I could still feel the aftereffects of the pack’s burden. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” It sounded like the perfect scripture for the post-camping Monday mornings.
The first time I did any serious camping – as in “load up” and head to the wilderness for a week – was also my first time carrying 70 lbs. in a backpack. I remember being at the trailhead, backpack up and ready to go, and a friend (and seriously experienced outdoors man) looking at me and the way I was wearing the pack. He pointedly said, “Are you serious….? Take that pack off.” You know all those straps and buckles – they have a purpose. He began to teach me about the way to adjust the pack, to make the load – not any less heavy – but less burdensome. “Try this for a few miles.” A few miles later we stopped. I would assess things, make choices, make some adjustments, and carry on. All along the way, there was a tweak here and there, and at the end of the day-long trek I was relatively relaxed, appropriately tired, but not where near as worn out as other trips.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Now I understood that it was Scripture for the journey itself. The lessons learned were knowing who was your teacher and knowing to whom you were yoked. I was so fortunate to have my as our guide and a great group of friends for the journey.
Maybe the bigger lesson is that no matter what you do in life, there will be some part of you that is joined, is yoked, to commitments, choices, and decisions. You learn from others, you adjust, you move on to journey’s end. But there is always the one teacher to whom you go.
Yoke your life to Christ – the ultimate guide for the “wilderness” of this life.