“We never are too old for this, my dear, because it is a play we are playing all the time in one way or another. Our burdens are here, our road is before us, and the longing for goodness and happiness is the guide that leads us through many troubles and mistakes to the peace which is a true Celestial City. Now, my little pilgrims, suppose you begin again, not in play, but in earnest, and see how far on you can get before Father comes home.” – Mrs. March (Little Women, Louisa May Alcott).
I began reading Little Women to my dragons yesterday. This is my first go of it because I have heard it has some very sad parts, and I much prefer to be saddened by surprise than by willingly subjecting myself to the feeling. I haven’t even watched the movie. I am brave now, though, and trying to not guard my heart as I read so that I don’t miss anything, especially opportunities for inspiration and growth.
The first chapter in, I found I had waded straight into coincidence. Just this Sunday, a group of us met together – our weekly meeting – and talked about living a virtuous life, as described by Gregory of Nyssa in a letter he wrote. He used many analogies, but the one we talked about most was one the apostle Paul used- running a race, where the finish line is perfection.
Perfection isn’t possible for us during life, so it seems like a race in vain. It isn’t, though, because the relationships we foster with others while we run are worth the wait for Perfection. Not only that, our relationships are the point, especially our friendship with God, who gave us a living example of how to be friends and with whom. Also, we have our reason why.
The race is hard. It is full of burdens such as paying bills, feeding mouths, folding never-ending piles of laundry, sickness… death. But our friends help us pick up and carry the burdens that are good – going to work, making dinner, changing diapers – and they help us discard the burdens that are bad – worry, self-doubt, and hate, to name a few. Each person’s will be different.
After Mrs. March inspired her girls, they set back to work knitting socks for the army, and they stopped groaning about the hard work they had to do to help make ends meet. They realized they were not alone in their burdens, and they had something great to look forward to as they worked.
I am thinking of my own burdens, and the friends – family- who have helped me carry them. I feel I have been helped more than I have helped others. Maybe this is not the case, but I hope my eyes will remain open to seeing where and how I can lend a hand.
May we all continuously strive to inspire others throughout The Race.