Burden baskets, trouble trees

Photo for representation.

Native American women used to strap conical baskets onto their back to gather wood, berries and other items. On reaching home, they would hang the basket outside, on the front door and take only the contents inside. Symbolically, this meant that one would leave complaints and problems in the basket outside and not let them into the sacred confined of the home. The saying ‘leave your burden at the door’ perhaps originated from these baskets. This ritual of unloading troubles mentally into the basket that they left outside, reduced the heaviness of the heart and enhanced their internal strength.

Once a carpenter was hired to help a man restore an old farmhouse. On the first day of the job, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong; a flat tire on the way to a job, his electric-saw broke, and after work, his old pick-up truck didn’t start.

As dusk fell, his new boss gave him a lift home and throughout the trip, the carpenter sat in stony silence as he stared out of the window. On reaching home, he invited his boss in for a few minutes to meet his family. As they walked towards the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When he entered the house, he underwent an amazing transformation. His face was overtaken by a big smile as he hugged his two children and greeted his wife with warmth.

Afterwards, the carpenter walked his boss to his car. The boss’ curiosity got the better of him, and he asked the carpenter about the tree on the front porch. “Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t stop having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure – my troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home.

Then in the morning, I pick them up again”. “Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.” Let’s find our own burden baskets/trouble trees to help unlock our inner strengths. After all, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.

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