Leave your burden at the well

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The January doldrums are particularly plentiful this year,
and the soup of anxiety bubbles furiously on the front burner.
The voices of self-doubt are really insistent…
I could have been more inspiring. I should have done that better.
If only I would have said more to comfort.

And my spiritual director asks how things are with God and me.
I am not so sure, I say… yet another contribution from self-doubt.

He asks me what would it be like to offer all of this to God.
I wonder…

And he suggests I try this very tactile spiritual practice.
Fill a bowl with water. Find a few stones and lay them around the bowl.
Choose one stone that speaks to you, feels ‘right’ in your hand,
one that represents a burden you are carrying.
Hold it in your hand. Feel its texture and weight.
And then drop it into the bowl of water.
Leave it there. Leave your burden there.
You can pick it up again if you need to.
But give yourself a break. Lighten the load.

Ah, yes… so many stones I carry… hesitant to let go of them.
If I keep carrying them I have the illusion of control.
And that is exactly what it is: an illusion.
Perhaps that is the biggest burden I carry.
So I drop the stone into the bowl of water…
I release the burden into the well of God’s mercy and grace.

M. Basil Pennington writes this, truly a word of grace for me.

The pilgrims continue to come. Only God knows what
each one of us brings, and with what kind of heart.
We come mystically to this cave. We know the mess
we bring and the often distracted heart that brings it.
But this is all we have–all we are.
One stretches out his arms to receive.


Rachel Larson is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Laramie, WY. She regularly seeks out pathways, pilgrimages and peaceful gardens as places of prayer.