Strolling along Montague Street in Worthing one lunch break, I spotted two young women walking towards me, obviously walking together - they were in step - and each with a mobile phone to her ear.
There’s a difference between the young women’s connectedness and the isolation inspired by personal music players - from the late 1970s Sony Walkman to today’s iPods and MP3 players. So easily we can walk around in our own world of music no one else can share. Interesting, isn’t it, that this technology brings personal delight and virtual solitude, signalled only by our earphones.
In another way we each carry our own inner world with us - current joys and hopes, family concerns, life’s hurts and disappointments, a fearful future perhaps. Some of these we can share with those who share our lives - a close friend, partner or spouse. Others we have to keep inside ourselves because no other person is up to bearing that particular load.
Saint Paul wrote encouraging us to carry each other’s burdens. It’s good to have people we can trust to share our inner lives with. The local church should be one source of support and help as together we rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Yet, there are times when we have to shoulder our concerns all by ourselves. Saint Paul also wrote, “All must carry their own loads.”
The great thing is that sharing a joy or burden is not restricted to fellow human beings; just as those two young women were connected to real but distant people, so we can be connected by prayer to God. He - in Jesus Christ - delights to walk life’s road with us. The difference is that his shoulders are wide enough to share any burden we may have; there is nothing about us that will surprise or shock him.
Jesus is just a prayer away - no need for a handset, either!
Tony Ford lives in Worthing and is now retired.