One of the Native American teachings I’ve come to appreciate most is the Burden Basket. When we reach down inside to find the inner strength necessary to carry our own burdens, we are freer to live interdependently.
Besides being a carrier for berries or kindling for the tribe, a literal burden basket hanging at the entrance to one’s abode reminded visitors to unload any worries outside, before coming inside another’s sacred space.
In giving thought to the idea of burden baskets today, I imagine that we can still walk alongside one another; but in a way that does not overwhelm friends with our expectations or undue dependence. I prefer thinking of it as a holding place, over which I ask Spirit to brood.
Most people have enough to handle without taking on unreasonable difficulties of others. What if first, we took our challenges to Sacred within and allowed that relationship to develop, while looking for a counselor, pastor or spiritual director that is gifted, equipped and impassioned to sit with us?
One of my greatest pleasures, in sitting with people, is witnessing them move through tough experiences as they learn to live from a place of strength. At some point they define their responsibility from others’, and begin trusting Sacred within.
Both persevering through and letting go can be daring acts, as we become purposeful about our callings, observant of surrounding cues and pliable in the hands of the Holy. I picture these hands cupped much like a burden basket, pointed at the bottom, to give space for the things we’ve buried deep or neglected. After all, the very things our baskets hold could, one day, meet the needs of those around us.
I am frequently inspired by the way spiritual companions work through complexities, to a place of generosity and shared accountabilities. As they ask, what is the life-giving response, they find themselves loosed from attachments to particular endings.
Encouragement is one way to urge someone’s best self along. Another is to respectfully suggest that the other pick up his own load, trusting Love, the image in which he was made.
Take a look at your burden basket. Will you dare to let Spirit brood?