So I’m in California. I made it safe and sound. I even got the upgrade on the airplane which was the first time ever for me. I sat in the very front row! Every now and then it pays off to be disabled.
But I digress…
It’s truly beautiful here. For a minute, when organizing all this I thought that because I’m staying with the Salvation Army, that I would be in ‘the hood’.
But was I ever wrong!
I am on some kind of a mountain overlooking the Pacific ocean in a suburb of Los Angeles in the middle of luxury. I was totally fine with the possibility of being in the inner-city but i’m definitely not complaining about where I am.
(Apparently I should even keep my eyes open for celebrities around here. We shall see.)
So as I was scoping out the campus, I see a cross overlooking the ocean. It has two benches by it so that people can sit there and reflect, pray, be silent, and just get away from the madness of their training for a while. It’s really quite beautiful.
When I scooted over there to sit beside it, I noticed that it wasn’t accessible. There’s a pretty high curb that prevents my scooter from getting any closer. So in typical Dion fashion I thought maybe I could get around it somehow. So I scooted up around some hedges, and tried to scoot underneath a tree in some mud, in hopes of coming out the other side at the base of the cross.
As can often be the case, I didn’t think it completely through. My scooter got bogged down in the mud and stopped working completely. I was stuck.
What do I do now? Thankfully I had my phone with me and texted the couple of folks at the college that I knew. I asked them for help. Unfortunately they were both in class and didn’t see my text.
So here I was, stuck in the mud on my rental scooter in a foreign country, embarrassed, and unable to walk or move out of there.
All I could do was wait. I didn’t panic thankfully. It’s something I just don’t do, which in this case at least was pretty helpful. I knew that those classes would end eventually and that someone would come to my aid.
So while I waited, I took a little time to reflect on my situation.
I thought about the cross.
I thought about the availability of the cross to everyone.
I thought about how accessible the cross is to every single human being, no matter where they are from or what color their skin is or even what God they claim to worship.
I reflected on my conviction that taking the Jesus Way is very much about being on a journey towards the cross. Sometimes that journey can feel difficult. Once in a while we may hit barriers on the road making the cross seem inaccessible. Sometimes it might even lead us to getting stuck in some mud with no way out unless someone gives us a hand. Occasionally it might make us feel all alone in a strange land.
So what an earth was Jesus trying to say when He said “my yoke is easy and my burden is light”? Because it sure doesn’t feel easy all the time. It doesn’t always feel like the burden is light. Sometimes we get struck with sickness and pain. Other times we get hit with financial burdens, relational breakdown, and any number of other obstacles on the road that can and do come up fairly regularly.
When we read Jesus’ story we see that his walk was no picnic either. I guess that’s the point. Jesus didn’t come to take away our pain necessarily. He came to participate in it and show us the way forward. And that way does include the cross.
But the real beauty is that the cross is not the end of the story.
Easter is always coming!
And that does indeed make the burden light and the yoke easy.
Oh, by the way, a cadet (that’s what they call people training to become sallyann clergy) saw me from a window and came to the rescue. He pushed me out and got my scooter working again. All, but my pride, is well. At least he’ll have a story to tell for the rest pf his life