Always a burden?

We’re planning a ‘Soul Walk’ around the church as part of a diocesan Casting the Net Gathering that will take place at Holy Trinity in October. It is designed to be accessible to anyone, including an ‘unchurched spiritual seeker’.  I was describing the details of the walk to someone, and how it started with taking up a pack or sack, with a stone or two in it, and journeying to a place where your burden could be set down before you continued on.  A classic sort of dynamic, especially in Christianity:  you come broken and bent;  you are mended; you journey forth re-born.

But this person challenged me about the archetype.  Not everyone, he said, will come in broken.  Not everyone is weighed down and struggling.  Some people are seekers because they love life and want to express that spiritually.  Some are very happy and want to tune into the source of their happiness.  Others may have troubles, but already have the love and support that they need to cope with them.

Do we assume that people coming in our doors from ‘outside’ the Church need salvation in the classic way we have always presented it?  Do we need to listen to them and where they are a bit more, rather than telling them how they feel?

Of course, in our Soul Walk, it would be perfectly possible to pick up a sack and walk along with it empty and weight-free, if that is how your life felt  …

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2 Responses to Always a burden?

  1. Mother Mary says:

    It is wonderful if someone feels joyous with love for life. All Christians should feel joyous with hope and gratitude for all our earthly gifts. How attractive that is to others too. However, even the saints have the ‘burden’ of sin… no one of us is perfect. Letting go of our burden and walking the healing path of forgiveness, both for ourselves and others, is not in conflict with feeling joyous. It leads to ever greater joy, lightness and peace. Let us all learn to let go and loose our burdens, and the sack of stones on the ‘Soul Walk’ is a wonderfully simple act to help us.
    The Orthodox theologian Fr. John Chryssavgis has written, ‘When you know how to lose, you also know how to love! In some ways, every moment in our life is a gradual refinement so that we are prepared to encounter death, which is the ultimate loss’ (and the ultimate gain.)

  2. alisonpeden says:

    I agree – but my point was that even though an ‘unchurched’ person might eventually realise that they have burdens and sin to let go of, this is not necessarily a helpful starting point: i.e. (to put it crudely) “welcome, come in and tell me about what is weighing you down …”

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