I was sitting in Chapel View Lounge the other day looking out across campus. The scene was as it typically is on days when classes are in session – quiet until the break between classes when the view became filled with students hurriedly going from one place to the next. I have looked out upon this view many times before; however, on this particular occasion, I was struck by something that I have seen countless times, but to which I have paid little attention – backpacks. As the students crossed in front of me, going from one end side of campus to the next, nearly all were weighed down with backpacks. Some were even walking slightly hunched, leaning forward against the weight on their backs.
Sitting there watching the scene unfold in front of me, I wondered to myself, “what’s in all of those backpacks? What makes them so heavy?” I could only imagine the size and quantity of books that would be spread before me if those backpacks were all opened and emptied.
As the between-class-traffic came to an end, I got up to leave Chapel View Lounge, grateful that I was not weighed down with a backpack of my own. Then, as I was walking back to the Chapel, I thought, “is that really true? After all, we all carry around a lot of stuff from our lives, whether anyone can see it or not. What’s in my backpack?”
And how about you: what’s in your backpack? What is it from our life that you carry upon and within you? What is it that weighs you down, holds you back, and sometimes even causes you to stumble beneath its heaviness?
Grief? Anger? Fear? Loneliness? Low self-worth? Rejection? Failure? What’s in your backpack?
During this season of Lent, we might think that we are called to simply empty our backpacks – get rid of all that extra, burdensome weight that we carry around. If only it were that easy!
I think, instead, we are called to hear the voice of Jesus as he lifts the burdens from our backs, places them on his own, and carries them all the way to Calvary.
Jesus says to you, “let me lift your grief, for I have borne your griefs and carried your sorrows.”
Jesus says to you, “let me take your anger from you, for I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Jesus says to you, “let me bear your fear, for my word for you is ‘be not afraid.’”
Jesus says to you, “let me take away your loneliness, for lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus says to you, “let me carry your low self-worth, for you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”
Jesus says to you, “let me take upon myself your rejection, for I have called you by name and you are mine.”
Jesus says to you, “let me shoulder your failures, for I have come to set you free, and if I set you free, you are free indeed.”
May these words of grace lift your burdens, lighten your load, and fill you with the hope of Christ.
God Bless Your Journey -
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.