When I was a teenager my big sister Alex planned a Gap Year adventure to Israel, and I can vividly remember weeks of frantic preparations and my poor mum’s anxiety levels rising by the day. Alex and Dad made a very expensive trip to an outdoor store to purchase a top-of-the-range rucksack, sleeping bag, sleeping mat and all the other bits and bobs she would need for a couple of months backpacking.
The day before her flight was dedicated to packing, checking and rechecking the checklist, double checking tickets and passports… you can imagine the chaos… Finally the rucksack was packed, unpacked, double checked and repacked, and Dad manfully hoisted it up on to the mighty shoulders of the magnificent 5’2” Alex. As she shouldered the weight her knees briefly buckled before she fell backwards, sprawled across that top-of-the-range rucksack like a stranded beetle. I earned a nifty clip round the ear from my poor harassed mother for laughing a little too enthusiastically, and Dad and Alex made a very hasty trip to the outdoor store to buy a smaller rucksack. Much deliberation and repacking went on, but by teatime she had a rucksack packed that she could actually carry. A burden she could bear.
Many of us may feel we carry burdens we cannot bear, and that time has come for me. I arrived as Rector of the Steeplewood Fold as my marriage was falling apart, and the 18 months that have followed have not been easy for me or my family. Like many I have sought the advice of my GP, who is now treating me for depression, and with the full support of my Bishop and the good people of our churches I am now on sick leave. As a family we will continue to live at the Rectory, and I anticipate a full return to work sometime after Easter.
Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11: 28-30) I do believe God called me here to serve you, but I also believe He called me to be His child first, and to be a mother to my children – and right now the burden of leadership is too great for me to carry alone, the rucksack is too big. So, for a while at least, I’m taking some time to recover, to reconnect with God, to care for myself and my kids… to carry a smaller rucksack.