Sunday, July 3, 2011

Christ in My Yard, Easing My Burden

“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.”

These words from today's Gospel readings offer a concrete image of what it happens when we attach ourselves to Christ. But when I heard them at Mass this morning they felt abstract; we aren't literally going to be given a yoke and have it placed on our shoulders. What does this metaphor mean on a practical level? I went home and continued to garden and found my answer.

I mentioned in an earlier post that someone has been vandalizing our family minivan. The police suggested we clear out the overgrowth of trees from our driveway to increase visibility. We hired someone to clear out and trim the dead branches and overgrowth all over our little property. This weekend I've been weeding while my husband and our 11-year-old have been spreading the big pile of mulch we bought.

Our neighbors have noticed the recent change; it would be tough not to. A teenager who lives across the street stopped by. He was returning a rake. He told me how concerned he was that someone had been vandalizing our van. When he saw me weeding, he went home for a hoe, a weed whacker and started working with me.

As we worked quietly side by side, our next-door neighbor F. walked over.  She and her husband are retired educators, avid gardeners and fix-it-uppers. She expressed concern too about the vandalism and then offered suggestions for the emerging flower garden beds. She offered  plantings from her gardens. "You'll have to come over and we can go over what makes sense where." She also had some design ideas, including moving river stones and small white stones I had bought years earlier to enhance the look of the front of our front yard. Somehow, taking care of our yard makes the evil the vandal committed weaken. We can nurture this place where my husband and I are raising our boys. We are giving Beauty a place to flourish.

Soon, it started raining - hard - and we all went inside our own homes. The encounters with my neighbors and their unexpected gifts of kindness, prompted me to think again about today's Gospel reading. Could my neighbors not be a sign of Christ's presence?  Conversion, as my friends in the Communion and Liberation movement have taught me, is a lifelong event.  Conversion is about turning our hearts toward the gaze of the Infinite. It is something I must do day after day after day. Listen again to how Christ summons us:

 “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.”


  1. Matthew has been so good to me lately. I've been thinking about this gospel reading all day today, Allison...and applying it totally differently to my life. Isn't it amazing how the same words can work in our hearts in totally different ways?

    Happy Sunday!

  2. Oh! So tell me your story.....

  3. Lately I've been feeling a bit lost, in a funk, not sure of what direction I want to go in. With the house, the writing, the kids. Putting too much thought and consideration into what so many different people are saying and doing and what they might think. And it was essentially paralyzing me from moving in any particular direction. Form accomplishing anything.

    And then this reading this morning: Take MY yoke upon you and learn from ME. (...) MY yoke is easy and MY burden light.

    Light bulb moment: I don't need to worry about anyone else's advice or admonishments or input or whether they will agree or disagree after all. What would Jesus have me do and say? What is the His yoke? If I choose it, it will certainly be easy to bear and light to carry.

    And so there...the Holy Spirit speaking through Matthew, reaching through time to encourage and guide just one person and yet all people.

    Hah! I should just copy and paste this into a blog post ;)

  4. Dwija: We all stumble into this, the myth of self-suffic

    iency. Trying to figure it all out ourselves. I go back to the Creed: "begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. THROUGH HIM (emphasis mine) all things were made..." including us!


  5. I loved that reading, too. Missing my time this summer for personal prayer and time with the Blessed Sacrament, I hear Him saying, "Come to ME...". It's an invitation...a command, really.

    Another thing that my pastor mentioned this weekend...we might enjoy spending time with God, but He also delights in spending time with US (in spite of all our weaknesses, etc)

  6. Allison, this is such a pure and heartwarming post. Thank you for writing it.

    And I'm sure you read that Dwija recommended you, though I’ve been coming here for weeks since you made a great comment on one of her posts and I stalked you. :)

    Dweej, You should most definitely copy and post your comment, it was a beautiful ending to a beautiful post.

    I love being sisters in Christ with both of you amazing women!!!

    Oh, and if you’re wondering who this is? ;) It’s Eden. Darn computer demons are at it again.

  7. Nevermind! Google found me after all. :)