Friday, 06 May 2011
The language of grieving a loss or moving forward is often phrased as "let go and let God." It's everywhere. From St. Callistus Confirmation Program to Melody Beatty's Codependent No More, this phrase attempts to encourage us to surrender our sorrows and worries to the One who loves us as we are. It's an invitation to vulnerability...to allow others to enter into our suffering...an invitation to become transparent and vulnerable.
Some of you may know that Henri Nouwen is one of my favorite authors. He speaks my language...the language of raw honesty and vulnerability. The introspective author that he is, Nouwen writes not just for the reader's sake but for the sake of his own reflection. It just so happens that his own journal writings were so insightful that he was often encouraged to polish and publish.
Nouwen often talks about the idea of letting go. However, his point of departure is one of, "God has created us free to be Love for the world and for God Himself." We are no one's possession. Ultimately, God has written in our hearts a kind of desire "for more." So, the reason we seek God to begin with is because of this genuine need and desire for unconditional Love. As we learn to Love the world, we learn to let go of the world. With our Love for the world we begin to set others free...free to be Love for the world and for God. We stop living in fear and begin to see everything as a gift.
For Nouwen, letting go is Loving others...not smothering others. He emphasizes the idea that we are all companions to one another or as Rainer Maria Rilke says, "Guardians of each other's loneliness." If we can begin to see each other as companions, we get rid of all feelings of ownership. A little unnatural? Well, I'll say so. Unreal? Perhaps. This kind of letting go cannot happen as a sudden detachment from our loved ones. This kind of Loving others happens in the context of Loving the One who calls us His own. Prayer. It is humanly impossible to Love (with the capital L) in the same way Jesus Loves. This is not a project we can undertake alone. We must return to the Truth and find comfort and peace.
Letting go happens with lots of prayer. It is a constant state of surrender. It is a constant reminding myself that no one "belongs to me." Nobody. The thought itself can be anxiety inducing. It'll make us feel lonely. I'm reminded of the apostles. When Jesus was arrested they ran! Peter stuck around but denied ever being Christ's follower. When Jesus was crucified, the apostles had no idea what to do with themselves. None. "We thought he was our Messiah," they tell the resurrected Jesus. "Hmmm...loneliness and confusion..these two elements have shattered their faith in the Kingdom," I can only imagine Jesus saying as he walks with them on their way to Emmaus. In their minds, Jesus belonged to them. In order for them to believe and to Love He needed to be physically present. They clung onto the previous reality. They were unable to fathom the idea that while Jesus physical presence was no longer in their midst, His spirit remained with them. They were afraid.
Just recently, there have been several changes in my life. A lot of letting go and Loving. I have found myself trying to cling on to what used to be...a physical reality that once was. The truth is only the essence of this reality remains. My Confirmation 1 students have moved on to Confirmation 2. My Confirmation 2 students have gone on to serve the Church and the world at large. My tutoring students are moving on to their respective grades. The persecuted Christ is arrested and all of His apostles flee! He is brought before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. Peter denies Jesus and after the cock crows, he "weeps bitterly." The changes...the letting go. The Loving and integrating into our whole being happens. The changes happen, the experience of sadness, fear, loneliness, doubt and confusion occur. Letting go...opening up to Love...freely given, freely received.
Set free to Love and serve the Lord and His people.