WE ALL CARRY TOO MUCH WEIGHT. We know we are supposed to examine what we want to leave behind, and clear the path ahead for progress and a better life. But sometimes we don't know what to discard. It may require an inventory of baggage before we take action.
Think, for example, of that old tale about four boys climbing in the Rockies toward a lake above the timberline. They were all seasoned climbers except one. When the majority wanted to stop and catch their breath, the new boy charged ahead.
So, at one rest stop they forced him to sit down. Then when he wasn't looking, they slipped a rock into his backpack, alongside his sleeping bag, camera, and frying pan. At the next stop they did the same thing. By the time they got to the lake, the new boy was the last to arrive, huffing and puffing under his load.
We don't need buddies or bullies to put rocks in our mental packs.
In real life, we don't need buddies or bullies to put rocks in our packs. We do that well enough ourselves, thank you. Nevertheless, that story reminds me we should never carry forward useless weights. The unresolved issues of the past have only the weight we give them.
Often the metaphor for life is a path, usually an uphill one. Those rocks—be they nagging financial demands, claims of heredity, health problems, religious myths, unhealed sins, relentless guilt, satisfied retribution, questionable personal decisions, or whatever—have no place on today's path toward a greater and more practical realization of our divine nature as the sons and daughters of God.
Those mental rocks, those burdens, not only slow our progress, but keep us down and immobile, as they long ago did an impotent man by the Pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. St. John's account in the Bible says the man had lain there for 38 years, always blaming lack of help for his inability to beat fellow sufferers to the "healing" waters when an angel stirred them up. When Jesus asked the man if he would "be made whole," he remained focused on his predicament and didn't answer the question.
The Bible account doesn't make clear what weighty historical claims the man was accepting, nor did Jesus ask, "What's wrong with you?" Not accepting false arguments, and seeing only the perfect man of God's creating, Jesus simply said, "Rise, take up thy bed, and walk." The result: "Immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked" (John 5:2–9).
So, what is the lesson in this for us? Are we burdened by thoughts of fear, envy, jealousy, self-will, resentment, mental laziness? Do we resist the uplifting word of Life, Truth, and Love?
If we are not alert to block such thoughts, we can find ourselves in that same lame mind-set, with similar misinformation thrusting itself upon us. We have to rid our thinking completely of such suggestions, no matter how insistent and real they argue to be. Otherwise, we'll have a hard time rising, standing, much less moving on, comfortably, up the path toward a life marked by true spiritual progress.
Of course, there is nothing burdensome about happy memories. We can cherish sweet episodes on the journey and keep them close. But we have to check our pack to see that it carries only what contributes to spiritual progress. Each day we can climb life's path with a demonstrated responsibility to conduct ourselves and our affairs responsibly, treating others with respect, and speeding the assent by eliminating any pebbles of dubious thought before they become rocks.
Beginning with a quote from St. Paul, Mary Baker Eddy once wrote: " 'Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us;' that is, let us put aside material self and sense, and seek the divine Principle and Science of all healing" (Science and Health, p. 20).
After some years of trying unsuccessfully to climb with a loaded backpack, I've become convinced that prayer leads us toward, and holds us on, the path of spiritual progress. We are actually free, right now—unencumbered, empowered by God, divine Spirit, to reach purposeful goals. It's never too late to drop the rocks and reach the top!
Frederick R. Andresen's latest book is Dos Gringos, a family novel set in the Mexican Revolution.
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