A wise and holy priest once counseled me on a practical way to shed worries and burdens, which continues to renew me regularly nearly 20 years later. He invited me to enter into prayer and imagine myself in our church before the altar. Take a moment and picture your own church when it is empty and quiet. Then, I picture in my mind some tangible item that could represent each worry or burden and move each item from within me onto the altar, one by one until they are no longer my cares but offerings to God.
My children and husband are often up there, sometimes in duplicate but with slight variations representing specific concerns. I generally stack up some homeschool books, including my planning binder, and something related to finances. Friends or colleagues of mine stand next to laundry baskets and a mop. Those dirty dishes are near terrorists and some extended family members along with my NFP charts and that neglected treadmill. It's always quite an eclectic mix!
I still return to this practice, quite regularly, and I invite you to try this prayer exercise if you are the worrying type or feel particularly burdened these days. The most remarkable element of these times with God, for me, is when I finish my prayer and open my eyes, leaving those items up there on the altar. It is oddly therapeutic to spiritually walk away from them, knowing they are in God's hands, for now. In fact, throughout the following days and weeks, a mental picture of those items lined up next to each other often comes back to me whenever I am tempted to despair in worry and stress.
What items would you line up on the altar to unburden yourself today?