I stood, staring up at the hill in front of me for a long moment, trying to catch my breath. Would I be able to make it up that hill? I shifted the pack on my back, adjusting the straps so that they dug into a different part of my shoulders. The muscles of my back cramped, screaming in protest at the load resting against them. Stretching as best I could around the load, I tried to work out the kinks to ease the pain.
I took the first step up the hill, and then the next, leaning forward to balance myself against the weight that tried to pull me backward. Even though it was a cool day, it wasn’t long until the sweat was running down and stinging my eyes. Still, I kept moving forward. One step at a time, I was making slow progress up the hill.
I heard voices behind me. It sounded as though two others were also climbing this hill, and were catching up with me. Hesitating mid-step, I half-turned to see who they were, then, catching myself, I turned back to my task and pressed forward.
My next step was easier. Was I gaining momentum as I went? Maybe it was just realizing that there were others close by that put a spring back into my step. As I went higher, climbing became easier and easier. At the top, I stopped and adjusted my pack again. What? It felt… lighter… emptier. That was strange. I looked around me, and there were the two others I’d heard during my climb. As I started looking at the packs on their backs, I realized that all of our packs were about the same size, and that mine had shrunk during the climb.
The older of the two approached me, and spoke words of greeting. As I talked to him, I mentioned this strange thing that had happened to the burden I carried. He smiled at me and said simply, “It’s really not all that strange. We were sent to help carry your burden, so we’ve picked up part of your burden, and we’re helping to carry it. We’ll be walking with you the rest of the way. Shall we press forward?”
The rest of the journey was spent in walking and talking together, encouraging each other over the steep and rough places, and sharing the burden between us.
PLEASE ENCOURAGE AUTHOR,
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