A pile of rocks beckoned. The instructions were simple: Pick one up. Carry it with you. Don’t lay it down until you’re told. This rock is yours now. Feel its cumbersome weight.
Lydia and I hoisted rough-hewn burdens, then turned down dimly-lit hallways to start our Good Friday journey — my 42-pound daughter with a 6-pound weight in the bend of her arm. And me, with mine.
I cradled my rock low, feeling its weight against my stomach.
Look in the mirror. See the burden you carry. Now, put the rock behind your back. You can’t see it, but it’s still there.
We shuffled forward.
Lydia and I weighed our rocks on a scale. Whose burden was bigger? And did it matter anyhow? It was a burden, all the same.
We pressed on.
Lydia and I lay our stones in a drawer, then closed it. We heard a tumble of rocks, and walked away. Maybe now, our rocks were gone for good. We walked to the other side of a wall, where persistent burdens waited on the back side of a drawer.
You tried to tuck them away. But that wouldn’t work. They’re still here.
Who else would carry these heavy loads through the dark maze ahead? We picked them up again.
With each step, stony burdens pressed in heavier.
Mommy can you carry mine? she pleaded. But my own stony burden demanded all I had.
Could we just rest a while? she asked. But shuffling feet behind us commanded us to trudge on, around the next bend …
and another …
and still one more.
And then this: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
A wooden cross rose as a beacon from a mound of discarded rocks. You may place your burden here. You don’t have to carry it anymore. But if you’re not ready, you may take your rock home with you.
I whispered the instructions to Lydia. But at the foot of the cross, Lydia clutched her stone tighter.
Mommy, can I keep mine? I really like my rock, she whispered back.
But Lydia, I said. We’re supposed to …
I stopped, mid-sentence.
Oh, my Lydia …. Me, too. Me, too. I like my rock, too. My rock has been a reliable companion. Often, I trust my rock more than The Rock who has been waiting to rescue me.
Under the weight of conviction, right there at the foot of the cross with a 7-year-old teacher, my burden was lifted: I had to let go. I couldn’t carry it anymore. And I don’t want to pick it up again.
We stepped forward, each of us finding a place to bury a burden.
I liked my rock. Clung to it, really. But that night, I left it in a jagged pile. For good.
Thank you to Freshwater Community Church in St. Bonifacious, Minn., for this deeply meaningful Good Friday experience. And thank you, Lydia, for teaching me that I like my “rocks” too much. Child, you ministered to my heart. I’ve been changed once again because of God working in you, Little One.