It happens all the time. Someone walks into the studio, for the first time....looks around and says, "What the heck is that??!!".
They are referring to the old double ox yoke I have hanging on a wall of windows right below the highest point of the room's vaulted ceiling. I usually say "That is an ox yoke.", to which I normally get the reply "Why, IN THE WORLD, do you have an ox yoke hanging in your house?!". That is an easy answer in my head because it has meant something to me for a long time. But explaining it is hard. It means getting personal. It means getting "spiritual". It means people might not agree. It means being courageous enough to be vulnerable. It means trusting that people who don't agree will hopefully as kind to me as I am to them. So.... since that is one of my new things for 2014 to work on.... BE KIND & BRAVE..... here goes!
My ox yoke.....
It is a solid, heavy, scratched, chipped, worn yoke. It's 2 U-shaped bows are a tad warped and clearly have endured some wear and tear over the years. It has a large rusty metal circle hanging from the center. I love this yoke. I had wanted one for years and it has a special significance for me.
A ox yoke, primitively, is a large beam used to help connect 2 oxen together to help perform a farming task.
Once strapped together they are a team.
Once harnessed as a pair they are partners.
One animal can not be a slacker.
The other animal can not do all the work.
There may be times when one is pulling harder and the other is just trying to keep up.
There may be a day when one wants to stop stubbornly and the other gently pulls till he starts again.
The large metal ring connects the yoke to the load they are to carry or equipment they are to pull.
The rusty circle moves and swivels to allow for movement and flexibility of task.
The bows are U-shaped to gently go around the oxen's neck with room to breathe.
The oxbows are adjustable so to fit a smaller ox on one side and a larger ox on the other if needed.
For ME........ the ox yoke represents many things.
First, it is a picture of what a marriage or partnership should be ideally.
2 people. Working together. Pulling their own weight but not alone. Accomplishing much more together than apart. Taking the lead sometimes and others times being led. Being flexible with a change in terrain or the path ahead. Tied to a common goal. Committed by the bond but adaptable if growth happens.
There are many times when my husband has had to gently pull our yoke as I stand stubbornly not wanting to move.
There are many times when I have had to quietly wait when he wants to dig his heels in and not work toward a goal.
There are many (did I say MANY?) times when both of us go along, stride for stride, and...I imagine... would have been the farmer's prize team of oxen.
I am grateful to be yoked together in this life with him. Sometimes I am sure we both want to wiggle our way out of the hold of the bows but we are blessed that they are adjustable and we are open to growth and change for each other.
Secondly, it is a model of what a friendship should look like.
A team. A partnership. Bound by some commonality but individual in strengths. It has to be mutual and not one-sided. The communication has to be good, strong and understanding. There needs to be some grace shown when one wants to slack. But there also needs to be some forgiveness when one doesn't pull their weight. It should be resilient and willing to accept growth. It should be comfortable but binding.
A long lasting relationship is one where the yoked individuals love each other, support each other, are patient with each other and keep their eyes on the goal ahead..... true friendship.
Lastly, it is a great image, for ME, of me and God.
I am reliant on Him to help guide me as a more mature oxen would teach the younger one when yoked together.
I am glad that He "shoulders" the burden of the task at hand for me.
I am thankful that He allows me to feel the weight of it as well.
I am sure of the path we are on.
I am confident that I don't really know where that path is actually going.
I am willing to grow into the size ox bow that is set out for me.
I am grateful for the patience when I stop dead in my tracks and refuse to move forward.
For ME...... the ox yoke is special. It means I am not alone.
Clearly, there are many common ties to the original use of a yoke to my thoughts on what it signifies in my life. But there is one thing that is not the same.
The ox on a farm don't have a choice to put this yoke on. It is put on them and they are put to work.
I choose to wear the yoke with Craig.
I choose to wear the yoke with God.
I put it on myself...by choice.
An ox yoke is not for everyone..... in decorating or in life choices. And that is ok.
This is just for ME. Maybe not for you. And that is ok.