A Long, Long Road

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

If I’m laden at all
I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart
Isn’t filled with the gladness
Of love for one another

It’s a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there
Why not share

And the load
Doesn’t weigh me down at all…

~Bobby Scott and Bob Russell from “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”

I know where this road ends to the east: at the very edge of the Cascade foothills, right in the middle of a small tribal nation trying to survive challenging economic times on their reservation land.

Heading west from here, there is another tribal nation trying to survive. In between are farmers who are having to sell their dairy herds because milk prices aren’t keeping up with the cost of maintaining their business. There are families now without sustainable wage employment because large industries have pulled up stakes and closed their doors. There is land that is overpriced as people flee the cities to come to rural surroundings because of ongoing pandemic shutdowns and worries.

There is much sadness all along this country road during times like these, but that’s not new. In another 100 years it will still not be new. There will always be foggy and stormy days interspersed among times of hope and light.

We remain a diverse people of tears and struggle, but we take turns carrying one another when one has what another does not. We still have the sun and the rain and the soil, the turning of the seasons and the rhythm of sun up and sun down.

On our way to there, why not share?

Advent Sings: Carried Aloft

photo by Josh Scholten
photo by Josh Scholten

He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
11 like an eagle that stirs up its nest
    and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
    and carries them aloft.
12 The Lord alone led him;
Deuteronomy 32: 10b-12a from the Song of Moses

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
Exodus 19: 3-6. 25

We live where eagles live.  It is a rare day to not see an eagle sitting in the tall firs around our farm, or flying over the river in search of salmon, or circling high above the valley.   They command awe and my attention is riveted by their strength and beauty.

The eagle, of all God’s creatures, is used as metaphor by God Himself for the care He feels for His people.   The wings of an eagle carry the weight of the world’s cares.

So too, the weight of the world is carried by a baby earth-bound, born in a barn to eventually die on a cross.  Either soaring on the wings of eagles, lying helpless in the straw or hanging forsaken on a tree so we are forever forgiven.

That is man, that God is mindful of us.

That is God, wanting us to know He loves us enough to carry us.

…those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40: 31