Let Go

“Let go” – two single syllable, deceptively simple words that are a key component to any healthy life.

I did an exercise in my college class today which involved the class creating something and then, in a rotten twist by me, required them to destroy it. The purpose was to poignantly illustrate the process of letting go. It only took them about 20 minutes to create the project, it was in their possession for a grand total of about an hour, and still it was very difficult for a few of them to let it go. Some of them had put their heart and soul into their projects and already had plans about what they would do with it. Imagine the dirty looks I got when I told them to smash it?

So, it’s no wonder then, that after we spend years building relationships, establishing homes, working hard, nurturing children, and developing our spirituality, that it can be extremely difficult to let them go. Even when our relationships aren’t working, or a great job opportunity requires a move, or our children grow up, or our old Sunday School understanding of God doesn’t make sense anymore, the known and broken can be more comfortable than the unknown with potential. But, we have to learn to let go or we will not grow – emotionally, intellectually or spiritually. It is a constant process of dying and being reborn, that we can learn to move through gracefully, or go kicking and screaming. Most of us probably use an odd combination of both.

Psychologist Jean Houston said to grow into our potential, we must overcome our own personal resistances and are required “to die to one story, one myth, in order to be reborn to a larger one… Development involves giving up a smaller story in order to wake up to a larger one.”

I share this because I know that my blog last week, and my Easter sermon probably challenged some of you in the “personal resistance” department. But for me, personally, letting go of the traditional understanding of Jesus’ death on the cross was like being freed from a smaller story to embrace a larger one. The larger story pulls us out of a focus on sin to a focus on love. The larger story begins to reframe other words that have been used to beat people over the head, like “saved” and “sin” and “repentance.” The larger story brings me back to my authentic self, deeply connected with a God who loves until the end.

I hope to explore this a little more in the weeks ahead and I hope you will walk with me.

Peace, Kaye

Wu Wei

Okay, I confess, I was really preaching to myself yesterday. I always believe every word of what I say Sunday mornings, it’s just that sometimes I need more practice doing what I say than other times. For those of you who missed my sermon yesterday, I preached on the Taoist concept of wu wei, the action of non-action.

Wu wei suggests that, if we can get out of our own way and let go of our need to control, we will cultivate a way of being that connects with the natural ebb and flow of life, and with the movement of God and the universe. Wu wei is the art of “letting-be”; going with the flow. Sometimes we try so hard to make things happen our way, in our time, that we leave no room for the Spirit to work. Letting-be opens up space in our minds and hearts for new possibilities, different ways, and new paths, because we have let go of our preconceived notions and expectations.

There are weeks when I struggle for hours at my computer trying to write my sermon for Sunday. Either I can’t find the right stories, or my words aren’t coming together well; either way, the longer I try to force it to come together, the more frustrated and anxious I become. Finally, I’ll get smart and practice wu wei (I just didn’t know there was a name for what I was doing) and walk away. I’ll let it go for hours or maybe even a day in order to clear space in my head for God to come in and arrange all the pieces to make sense. Typically by the time I feel ready to try again, the stories will have appeared, my ideas have sorted themselves out and my sermon will flow together easily.

As with everything in our spiritual journeys, it comes back to self-awareness. We need to cultivate awareness of when we are striving too hard, practice a little wu wei, and then watch to see how things play out in their natural course. I’m constantly amazed at how well this works… when I let it!

Wu wei! ~Kaye