Spruce trees bend over these days with the weight of wet snow upon their branches. One may well fear that only one more snow flake will be enough to break them in two. Some are supported by companions - other spruce! “Hold hands,” they seem to say to one another.
Birch and poplar trees may stand near but their leafless branches bearing little snow do little to brace the spruce. These conifers are left with only each other for support. In this, one may recognize a principle: Only those who bear the weight can deter the threat of the weight.
For some reason these thoughts bring Adult-Teen Challenge to mind and along with that one of the greatest spiritual advances of the 20th century - the arrival of the Alcoholics Anonymous movement.
As we now know, that advance centers around the discovery that only those who are addicted can effectively help those who are addicted; and they can do that only by honestly and respectfully sharing their experience and encouragement with one another.
Only those who bear the weight can be the medicine that brings recovery to those who bear the weight - like the spruce in heavy snowfall.
This reminds me of our many churches here in our community. Surely each one bears heavy loads - illness, death, misdeeds, conflict, perhaps an uncertain future for the congregation. But just as surely within each one there is “one-another-ness” - support for each other.
Each is equipped through faith in a higher power to do so given the storms that have been weathered together. Figuratively, and actually, hands are held. The weight of human experience is carried together with honesty and respect.
Therewith those afflicted with the weight support those who bear the weight.
Is this not the Christ - the One who bears the weight to encourage, to redeem, those who bear the weight? Indeed so, indicated in nature by the spruce. With resilience and beauty, these trees point upward to transcendent power and mystery - to Christ in the Christian self-understanding.
But in this wintry season, chilling body and soul, these rooted symbols bend as they do so. And so it goes with the human. While bent over, they hold hands! They look deeply into one another’s eyes. There is no pretense. Instead, honesty and respect govern the interaction - self-being with one another.
Weight bearing the weight with each other. This is the Lord.
Loren Grage is pastor at Pine River United Methodist Church.