Message from a mule on bearing burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) crossed my path several times over a couple of weeks — on a website I visited for a writing assignment, on a store facade I passed in Berne, Indiana, and more.

I wasn’t sure what to do with it. But I knew who to ask: a retired pack mule I recently began working with in my animal communication and animal Reiki practice.

Story, a distinguished 27-year-old donkey-Percheron cross, trained and worked as a pack mule in Wyoming before returning to her owner in the Midwest. Sadly, as her owner’s health declined, so did her activity level and care. When he went into a care home, she found a forever home and second career with Summit Equestrian Center.

Paul probably wasn’t talking about anything an equine (even the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem) might carry when he urged the Galatians to bear one another’s burdens in order to follow Christ’s teachings. Still … I wanted to know what “bearing burdens” meant to Story.

When I asked, Story acknowledged the physical burdens she’d carried. But she didn’t dwell on that.

The real burden, I heard from her, is uncertainty. Not knowing exactly what she was required to do, where she’d be going next, how she would be treated, whether she’d be fed on time. That’s a much greater weight.

Story’s new person has reassured her, with reinforcement from me, that she is home. She doesn’t have to carry loads of equipment. She can choose the work she does, and so far she’s chosen to support veterans. I can well imagine that those who have carried the weight of war, and maybe still never knowing when panic or despair might hit next, find a fellow traveler in Story.

By following through and offering someone a word of encouragement today, a hand with the groceries tomorrow, or ourselves a moment of grace any day, we can ease all our burdens. It doesn’t take any grand efforts. Even small actions lighten the load for animals who need to know they’ll be cared for today and tomorrow, no matter what they carried yesterday.