I picked up my handbag just like I do each morning before leaving my house.
It contained the normal items one might expect to find in a purse. However there was more there than meets the eye.
In my wallet I carry greed. In my cosmetic bag I carry vanity and pride. On my notepad there are writings about fears of things I have no control over and anxiety about the opinions and acceptance of others. I have keys to places that I keep locked up never to be opened or shared with another. This is all the stuff I carry and I can’t seem to take any of it out.
My bag is extremely heavy.
From the outside it looks great. It’s just the right shape and color for the season. In fact next season I’ll likely replace it with a newer, more stylish one. As long as it looks good on the outside, no one will ever know. Because even though I carry it around everywhere I go and don’t mind others seeing it, I could never let anyone see in it.
Each day I carry it and each day it burdens me a little bit more.
I am so tired.
Yet, I can’t seem to put it down. I just can’t let it go…
…It’s sunny out today. I’m headed to the local outdoor market. Maybe there I’ll find something to distract me from the weight I carry.
Everyone is smiling. Most are carrying things like I am. Purses, shopping and diaper bags. I wonder what’s in their bags. What’s deep in their bags. They all look nice.
Does what I see on the outside match what is on the inside? Or are they all more like mine? Are they feeling tired and sore from shouldering their burdens like I am from carrying mine?
Since most are unwilling to share and I am too afraid to ask I will likely never know what the others carry.
Then, at the end of a row, somewhat to the back yet somewhat front and center I glimpse his table. It stands out yet, it is nondescript. He displays his merchandise in a way that catches one’s eye yet it’s not showy or arrogant. One just can’t help but notice. I see him standing behind the table watching the people pass by. Some pause to look, maybe touch a few bags but then move on. Some linger a while longer even trying on a few before going on their way. You can tell he wants to spend more time with them but he won’t force himself on them.
I’m proud of my bag and all the stuff I’m able to carry in it but you see, I kind of have a thing for bags, so I approach cautiously. He greets me with a warm, sincere smile and asks me how I’m doing. However, it seems to be just a formality as I think he already knows.
Maybe I’m not hiding my fatigue as well as I thought.
I begin to look through the bags.
Unexpectedly I hear him say, “I’m sorry those aren’t for sale. ”
“I’m not selling bags.”
“Then what are all these bags and purses doing here?”
“Those are the ones people have brought to me.” he said.
“Are you collecting for a charity?” I asked him.
His remark that “these are much too heavy for that” surprised me.
Thinking of the weight on my own shoulder and how much I’d like to lighten it, I wondered…
“Well, do you need anymore?” I asked him.
“I don’t need them, but I would be happy to arrange a trade if you like.”
A trade? I thought this sounded compelling.
“Okay, I’m interested. What kind of a trade?”
“It’s simple” he said, “you give me your bag and I’ll give you one of mine.”
I thought, maybe I could do that. He looked like the kind of guy who recognized quality craftsmanship so perhaps he had something I might like.
“Let’s see what you’ve got!”
He reached under the table to a beautiful trunk I had not even noticed until now. It opened with the creaking sound you’d expect from such a piece. It didn’t take him long to come back up with the most exquisite handbag I’d ever seen. It was compact enough to carry everywhere, yet spacious enough to hold all my “stuff”. It was soft and shimmery and seemed to catch the light just perfectly. No matter which way I turned it I could see his face reflecting off of it.
“I’ll take it!” I said.
“Wonderful” His voice was warm and lovely.
I began to take my things out of my bag so I could give it to him and put them in my new one, but he quickly interrupted me.
“No no no! The deal is I take your bag and you take mine.”
“Oh, I know” I said, “I just need to get my stuff out and you can have it.”
“You don’t understand, ” he said, “I want the ‘stuff‘ too.”
“What? You can’t mean…”
“Yes” he said softly but firmly, “I want to take all those heavy burdens you carry around and give you my own much lighter one.”
“But I can’t keep…any of it?”
“No, I’m afraid not, it’s the only way if you want one of my bags.”
“What will I do without my stuff?”
“Oh I’ve given you new things to carry, you’ll be fine as long as you hold to them as tightly as you held onto your own. Go ahead and take a look inside.”
As the bag was still sitting on the table, I opened it up and could not believe what I found.
There was a wallet full of generosity. A cosmetic bag full of qualities that combined to bring out a noble character. A notepad filled with notes and reminders from Him about how much He loves me. There was only one key and I knew that it was there for me to give back to him. An invitation of sorts symbolizing our forever connection. That he would have access to all those locked doors of before.
As I looked up into his eyes, I placed the key into his waiting palm. It laid directly on top of the faded but still visible scar I knew I would find there. His fingers closed in around it and with the other hand he lifted the new bag off the table and handed it to me.
“Here you are child, now you may carry my burden, for it is easy and light.”