Set down the burdens of the past, don’t carry them into the future

Set down the burdens of the past, don’t carry them into the future


Jesuit priest and psychotherapist Anthony de Mello tells a parable about a senior monk and a junior monk traveling on foot together.

Two monks came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked for help to cross to the other side.

The two monks glanced at one another because of their vows not to touch a woman. Then, to the surprise of the younger monk, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on with the journey. The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened.

After rejoining his companion, he was speechless. After an hour passed, then two, and three without a word between them, the younger monk could contain himself no longer and finally blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted to touch a woman. How could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”


Free yourself from the past

Consider the river of time before us at year’s end; 2022’s waters are quickly receding while 2023’s snowmelt is surging toward us. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day intermix as past, present, and future slosh about our waist as we cross this threshold in time.

Standing on 2022’s riverbank, we can ask what we can be freed of in the past and freed for in the future.

  • With whom am I traveling?
  • How will I respond to those seeking help?
  • What burdens can I set down and leave behind in 2022?
  • What blessings can I carry forward and share in 2023?


Rev Sybrant has a Masters in Divinity, Social Work, and a Doctor of Ministry. For more information, visit us at 15050 SW Weir Road, | 503-524-5230