Many of us soldier on, taking on more and more religious and spiritual burdens until it feels like our shoulders will break from the weight of the yoke.
We do this because our religious lives are important to us. We take on as much as we possibly can, and then a little more beyond that, in the hopes of being what we want to be spiritually. We want to be pious. We want to show our gods, if we worship them, how worthy we are. We want to be able to stand up, hold our heads up high, and say, “I am doing all I need to do and my religious life is complete. I am making a contribution.”
The problem with this, and it’s one that I’ve run into myself quite often, is that we’re human. We have limits, and pushing too far beyond those limits in the name of piety is to ensure that we break. And what good is a broken tool except as an object lesson?
Among those in my religious community, there are people who worship gods and people who do not. There are people who do daily ritual, and people who do no ritual at all. There are people who show their devotion through prayer, or craft, or action within their communities. There are some who do magic, and others who don’t. It’s an eclectic community of sorts, but we have common ground in that we all take on the burdens necessary to move forward, sometimes to the point of overload. And while we’re happy to ask for help with our work, we’re not so eager to ask for help for ourselves.
When I look at the occasions that I need help, I’m struck by a couple of things. First, I’m happy to ask for help from my community to work out a specific problem. I’m also happy to call upon my gods for help with a task. But today, I realized that I rarely talk about the fact that I ask my gods for help for myself.
I don’t know if its the fact that I think it’s week to ask for help for myself, or that I’m afraid that others will think it is weak. I just know that today I was finally able to tell someone that there are times where I fall down and cry out, “My Lord, please help me! I cannot handle this right now. I will break!” And, when I do this, He helps me. I don’t get a get-out-of-jail-free card, or anything, but He helps me take a break so I can recuperate and be His hands-and-eyes in the world.
The word ‘mayday’, which people use to indicate that help is needed, comes from a French contraction of ‘moi’ and ‘aider’ – m’aidez. In other words, help me, once again proving that words mean things.
Now, if we could only use them.