The pain in my neck and back was excruciating and I was so weary I felt I couldn’t take another step but still I continued to trudge on under the weight of my heavy load. A man came up beside me and asked, “What are you carrying in such an enormous backpack?”
“I have many important things in here, things I can’t afford to give up,” I answered.
“Well, I have my pride and my selfishness, all my bitterness and grudges, my loneliness and addictions. My broken relationships are all here. I have my guilt. Then there’s my greed with its competitiveness, consumption, and constant longing for more.........more money, more stuff, more power, more accolades, just more. And then there’s all the rules and conventions I must follow so God won’t look down on me and so my friends and neighbours won’t shun me and sneer at me behind my back. I have even more in here than that but I’m sure you’ve heard enough.”
“I’ll take your backpack and carry it for you,” he offered. “Then you’ll be free.”
It seemed like a lot to burden someone else with. I didn’t want to give it to him at first, but he looked so eager to relieve me of it that at last I relented and strapped it on his back. Before I skipped off I paused. “Hey wait a minute!” I said. “Free! Free to do what?”
“Free to absorb my love.” he said. “Free to show empathy, compassion and generosity to all you meet. Free to love unconditionally. Free to be at peace with God, your neighbour and all of creation. Free to celebrate.”
“Oh, by the way,” he warned. “People will try to saddle you with other backpacks. Don’t let them. Remember me.”