The Angel Of Burdens And The Road To Womanhood
From a historical book of inspirational stories for young girls.In their hands the girls carried a scroll; on their backs they carried a bundle, and they were five in number—five girls with rosy cheeks and healthy bodies. But now their cheeks were browned by the sun and their shoulders drooped as they walked by the way.
For they had walked and walked and walked as the morning had turned into noon, and now the afternoon shadows were already falling on the way. Then as the search seemed almost useless, they saw her—the one for whom they had come; the one into whose hands they wished to place their scrolls. Eagerly they watched her as she came slowly toward them dressed in shining white—the Angel Of Burdens.
When she smiled, they found courage to speak.
“We have come to search for you but we thought we should never find you,” said the oldest of the girls. “We can never grow strong and beautiful if we carry these heavy burdens on our backs. They are much too large for us and we do not like them. We have come to ask you to take them away and make us free. Lo! we have written it all here in our scrolls.”
But the Angel Of Burdens drew back as the five handed to her the scrolls which they carried.
“Take away the burdens!” said she. “Oh, no, I could never do that. He that carrieth no burden gaineth no strength. All must carry if they would grow.”
“But we do not like them. If we must have a burden, might we not exchange them? Surely all our friends do not have burdens to carry. We have watched them and we know they have none,” said another girl.
“You are quite mistaken,” said the fairy. “All have burdens to carry. But I can let you choose if you will exchange your own. Let me see what you have brought.”
“Well,” said the first. “Here is mine. I have to go to school. Now father has plenty of money and I shall never have to work. Why should I study and do all the hard work of the school? I hate it all and I want to be free from it. I want to live at home and read, and play, and do as I like.”
“And here is mine,” said the second, lifting it from her back. “I have to go to church every Sunday when I want to sleep. There is nothing there for me and I am so tired of it. But father and mother insist that I go, at least in the morning. I want to be free from the church.”
“Oh,” said the third. “I don’t mind school and I don’t mind going to church but I do mind having to help at home. It is iron and sweep and wash dishes; then wash dishes and sweep and iron. Always something to do when I am in the house. I hate housework and I want to be free from doing it. Mother says all girls should help at home. But it is a big burden.”
“My burden is quite different from the others,” said the fourth. “I cannot dress as I choose. I must wear heavy clothes and low heels. I must dress my hair as if I were old and tidy. All the girls do differently and I want to be like them. Really my burden makes me very unhappy. Please let me change it.”
Then the fairy turned to the last girl, who had been resting her burden against a stone wall.
“What have you here, dear?” she said kindly. “Your burden seems weighing you down. Let me help you open it.”
“Oh dear,” said the girl, and the big tears welled up in her eyes. “This is my home life. Nobody seem to understand me. They scold and fret and fuss all the time. Mother is cross and the children are always bothering me. I want to go away from home and work for my living and then board as the other girls do. I should love to have a little room in a boarding-house where the girls could come to see me. My burden grows heavier and heavier and I am also very unhappy.”
“Well, well, well,” said the Angel Of Burdens. “It looks as if I had a big task. All of you seem to be unhappy, but then we are usually unhappy because we look at ourselves instead of others. Let’s try what these magic spectacles can do. They will show you the burdens some of your friends carry and also show you how they carry them.”
Then she fitted a pair to the eyes of each girl and they looked at the passers-by.
There was Kate, who was always smiling and happy. Her burden was almost as large as she. There was a sick mother away back on the little farm in the country. Kate was trying to support her and still have enough to keep her own expenses paid. Her days were full of work. In her room, she was sewing to make extra money. She was very lonely, for she loved the little mother and longed to be with her, but she must earn money. Oh! what a pile of worries she had on every side! How could she ever carry them? But beneath the pile as it rested on her back they saw a little lever that was lifting all the time—and the lever was Love.
And here was May. They had money and automobiles and everything to make her happy. She had never seemed to have any burden but now she was carrying a very large one. She wanted to go to college, she wanted to make her life worth while, but her parents wanted her to stay at home and play the hours away. They would not let her go and as the months went by she longed more and more to study and serve. Did she have a lever to help carry hers? Indeed she did. It was right under the burden and it was called Vision.
Then there was Tia, with the beautiful voice. She too carried a burden. They had never known that she had a father. But she carried the burden of a father who drank and drank. Oh, what a shame to take her through the streets in such a helpless condition! Did Tia have a lever? All looked eagerly to see and they saw Ideals—she would retrieve the family name through her beautiful voice and sterling character.
And there was Helen. Her people used profane language and she loved the pure. They loved the world and she loved the ideals of the church. They made fun of her faith and tried to change it. How heavily she was loaded, yet they had never dreamed of it when they had seen her teaching her little class in the Church School. But Belief in God was helping her to carry her load.
So they passed along the way before the five girls. All were carrying something but not all were carrying their load alike. Some smiled, and some sang as they staggered beneath a heavy load; others groaned and fretted with the weight of a much lighter one. Some were not only carrying their own load but helping to carry others.
“And now,” said the Angel Of Burdens, “do you see a load that you would prefer? If so, then I will ask the bearer to exchange with you. Will you choose by the size of the burden or the ease with which it is carried?”
But though they searched long and diligently, they found no load easier than their own.
At last one turned to the Angel and said, “We find no one to choose. And since we must carry a burden, will you tell us how best we may carry these?”
Then the face of the Angel lighted with pleasure till it glowed like the sun. “When one asks how to carry and not why he must carry, already the load is lighter,” she replied. “If you will, your school can give to you a vision that will make your load seem very easy; your church can give to you a love that will make you eager to go there and learn to serve; your home cares can give you ideals for your own little home some day; your mother can show you how to grow into beautiful womanhood if you will but give her a chance; your troubles at home can give to you a sympathy that will not only lift your own burden but help with those of others. All these levers that you have seen helping to lift loads have been right at your hand to help you if you would only have given them an opportunity.
“How shall you bear your burdens? With a smile on your face, and love in your heart, and any lever that you can find.”
Then the Angel Of Burdens went on her way to find others who groaned beneath their burdens because they had never learned how to carry them.
Smiles and Good Fortune,
Teresa Thomas Bohannon
Author of the Regency Romance novel, A Very Merry Chase
– W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915