The Syllabus and Secondhand


Suddenly you look up and realize your life is dictated by syllabi.  Your ‘syllabus’ of life; creating rhythm and structure, due dates and responsibilities, tasks and schedules.  Our syllabus of life dictates everything we do.  Even if you aren’t in school, you have a written syllabus structuring how it is you order your life.  Our bills are due by the 15th of the month.  The trashcans need to go to the curb on Thursday nights.  We water the lawn once per week.  We shower and dress before work.  We make sure to feed our children.  We regularly watch our shows.

Yesterday was the first day of class for my Summer Term.  I was sitting in class just after the professor handed out the course syllabus, listening to a reading of Matthew 11.  It was difficult for me to listen and pay attention to the reading of Matthew.  The gospel of Matthew was fighting the annoyingly consistent ‘tick-tick-tick’ of the secondhand on the wall, while simultaneously competing with the course syllabus on the desk.  Tick, tick, tick, the rhythm of the clock on the wall.  The course syllabus outlining the rhythm of my next few weeks.  And the words of Jesus trying to restructure those rhythms into His.

I’m not yet sure how to participate in this.  Jesus is asking me to enter into his rhythm and take up his yoke.  The yoke of Jesus is ‘easy and light’.  This is to say, the yoke of Jesus exists.  He has one.  He does not say, “leave the yoke of the world and take up my nothingness.”  Even Jesus understood that we cannot escape a secondhand and syllabus that orders our life.  Jesus has a rhythm and structure to life that operates differently than the clock on my wall and the syllabus on my desk.

I don’t think He meant that we need to abandon our work or he would not have invited us into His yoke.  The very existence of a yoke implies that there will be work.  We cannot escape this.  But approaching our life through the yoke of Jesus will reorient the end result of our work.  If we align ourselves with Jesus – the most loving, creative, gracious, diligent, compassionate being in the universe – the process of working through the rhythms of our life becomes easier.  The work does not decrease, but maybe it becomes easier.

This is my ‘task’ over the Summer: in the midst of the noise from the clock on the wall and duties of the syllabus on my desk, I must learn to put the yoke of Jesus around my neck, and continue through the rhythm and work of my life.

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