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Lesson One: My Yoke Is Easy and My Burden Is Light

Reality Initiating Us: Part Two

Lesson One: My Yoke Is Easy and My Burden Is Light
Monday,  April 6, 2020 

Life is hard, and yet Jesus says, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28).

It is hard to bear God—but it is even harder not to bear God. The pain one brings upon oneself by living outside of evident reality is a greater and longer-lasting pain than the brief pain of facing it head on. Enlightened people invariably describe the spiritual experience of God as resting, peace, delight, and even ecstasy.

If our religion has no deep joy and no inherent contentment about it, then it is not the real thing. If our religion is primarily fear of self, the world, and God; if it is primarily focused on meeting religious duties and obligations, then it is indeed a hard yoke and heavy burden. I’d go so far as to say that it’s hardly worthwhile. I think the promise from Jesus that his burden is easy and light seeks to reassure us that rigid and humorless religion is not his way and certainly not the only way.

It is God within us that loves God, so seek joy in God and peace within; seek to rest in the good, the true, and the beautiful. It is the only resting place that also allows us to bear the darkness. Hard and soft, difficult and easy, pain and ecstasy do not eliminate one another, but actually allow each other. They bow back and forth like dancers, although it is harder to bow to pain and to failure. If you look deeply inside every success, there are already seeds and signs of limits; if you look inside every failure, there are also seeds and signs of opportunity.

Who among us has not been able to eventually recognize the silver lining in the darkest of life’s clouds? You would think the universal pattern of death and life, the lesson of the Gospel and Jesus’ life would be utterly clear to me by now, yet I still fight and repress my would-be resurrections, even if just in my own mind. For some reason, we give and get our energy from dark clouds much more than silver linings. True joy is harder to access and even harder to hold onto than anger or fear. When I walk my dog Opie and look at the beautiful cottonwood trees in my yard, God helps me experience rest and peace.

If our soul is at rest in the comforting sweetness and softness of God, we can bear the hardness of life and see through failure. That’s why people in love—and often people at the end of life—have such an excess of energy for others. If our truth does not set us free, it is not truth at all. If God cannot be rested in, God must not be much of a God. If God is not joy, then what has created the sunrise and sunset?

References:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self, (Jossey-Bass: 2013), 80; and

Adam’s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation, (Crossroad Publishing Company: 2004), 153–155.

Illuman
In 2012 as Fr. Richard Rohr’s focus shifted to founding the Living School and recovering a Christian path to unitive consciousness, his male-specific work transitioned away from the CAC into Illuman, a US-based nonprofit partnering with organizations across the world which are committed to carrying on Fr. Richard’s work to recover traditional patterns of male initiation, affirm a path to masculine healing, reveal the true and false self, and honor the path of descent. They seek to form future generations of men who will restore these practices, serving to build a world that celebrates the beauty of all beings through the power of ritual, image, story, and council. If you’re interested in learning more about Illuman, you can sign-up for information on their next event, Soularize 2020: A Path to Masculine Healing, featuring Fr. Richard as a guest speaker.

Image credit: Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem (Entrada de Jesús en Jerusalén) (detail), Master of San Baudelio of Berlanga, Soria, Spain, 1125, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: “Can any of you, for all of your worrying, add a single moment to your span of life?” (Luke 12:26)
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