Tag Archives: trust

Letting go of what was to be open to what is to come

The image of the trapeze artist letting go of a swing, suspended in air before grabbing onto another trapeze artist, has been appearing to me lately, perhaps because I have been practicing letting go of both my job and my daily routines around my mom. I am like the trapeze artist in mid-air—I have let go of what was, but I have not yet grabbed onto what is to come. I am in transition between what was and what is to come.

vulnerability-grief-transition

I think this situation is common in grieving a death. We are forced to let go of how the relationship was because the person is no longer physically with us, but imagining what the future will be like without that person can be a challenge.

This kind of letting go happens in other situations, too—divorce, change of location, loss of job, illness, leaving school, etc. What once was is no longer, and what is to be is still unfolding.

Sometimes we hold on for too long to what has been, past the time when it is good or healthy for us. I have tended to do that with relationships that would have been better off ended, but because of loyalty, guilt or fear, I have stuck around. I have also done that with jobs—stayed past the time when I knew the job was not working for me, that it was constricting or toxic.

Letting go and the changes that come with it can be difficult. I crave what is familiar, even when I know that the familiar is not in my best interest. I like routines and traditions and often cannot see another way.

When I left my job, I prayed to be open. I want to see what is possible, and the best way to do that is to stop clinging to what was, to let go and to allow myself to live in this in-between place, to become more comfortable with a lack of routine, with the unknowing. I keep reminding myself that I can only receive something new when my hands are open and empty.

Letting go of what was to be open to what is to come

The image of the trapeze artist letting go of a swing, suspended in air before grabbing onto another trapeze artist, has been appearing to me lately, perhaps because I have been practicing letting go of both my job and my daily routines around my mom. I am like the trapeze artist in mid-air—I have let go of what was, but I have not yet grabbed onto what is to come. I am in transition between what was and what is to come.

I think this situation is common in grieving a death. We are forced to let go of how the relationship was because the person is no longer physically with us, but imagining what the future will be like without that person can be a challenge.

This kind of letting go happens in other situations, too—divorce, change of location, loss of job, illness, leaving school, etc. What once was is no longer, and what is to be is still unfolding.

Sometimes we hold on for too long to what has been, past the time when it is good or healthy for us. I have tended to do that with relationships that would have been better off ended, but because of loyalty, guilt or fear, I have stuck around. I have also done that with jobs—stayed past the time when I knew the job was not working for me, that it was constricting or toxic.

Letting go and the changes that come with it can be difficult. I tend crave what is familiar, even when I know that the familiar is not in my best interest. I like routines and traditions and often cannot see another way.

When I left my job, I prayed to be open. I want to see what is possible, and the best way to do that is to stop clinging to what was, to let go and to allow myself to live in this in-between place, to become more comfortable with a lack of routine, with the unknowing. I keep reminding myself that I can only receive something new when my hands are open and empty.

Soften my edges

Wispy pink clouds,

fluffy puffs,

like cotton candy,

dot the morning sky.

They speak to me of dreams and hopes,

of things delicate and precious,

of fairy tales come true,

and remind me of  

the people who bless me

with kindness and generosity.

Every pink sky is an invitation

to soften my edges and receive

what the world offers.

Noticing the holy in ordinary lives

God-meditation-mindfulness

The words of Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) have been catching my attention recently. He reminds me to dwell in the present and pay attention to what is going on in my everyday life, because that is where the sacred is waiting to be noticed.

In praying with Scripture using Lectio Divina one of the main ideas is to notice what word or phrase catches my attention—the idea being that that particular word or phrase is what God is speaking to me in that moment—and then repeating that word or phrase. By sticking with one word or phrase, I can allow it to sink in and glean deeper meaning. The Bible is so big, yet Lectio Divina focuses on the smallest part—just one word or phrase.

Ordinary life is like that, I think. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that brings the greatest joy—a kindness, hug, generous gesture.

I attended a memorial service this week for a woman from work who died in the spring. She was also a Zumba instructor at a community center, and her loyal followers wanted to honor her life by planting a tree and placing a bench in the park where she taught. One by one, people stood and paid tribute to this woman who had touched their lives by her upbeat personality, zest for living and generous nature.

Shonece had a beautiful smile and an easy laugh. It was not that her life had been easy or without suffering—she was a three-time cancer survivor, and during the first year of the pandemic, five people in her family died. She faced her loses and still chose to be upbeat and optimistic.

Tear flowed easily at this service—so great was the loss. And through tears, people recalled the simple acts of kindness Shonece had done for them. They talked about how her smile welcomed them when they came to Zumba and her spirit encouraged them. They shared stories of meals she delivered when they had family crises and all the simple acts she did to show her support for them.

I walked away thinking of another quote of Abraham Joshua Heschel.

God-meditation-mindfulness

Perhaps one of the luxuries of not working and having fewer responsibilities is that I have more time, space and energy to notice something and then ponder it. What I am noticing is that the holy dwells in the ordinary, just waiting to be seen and celebrated.

Linger

Sit by the water’s edge

and rest.

Linger here,

without worry or hurry.

Feel the breeze that

brings life,

swirling around,

wild and untamed one minute,

gentle and caressing the next.

Listen for that little voice,

that tiny whisper,

inviting you to

immerse yourself in the silence surrounding you,

to dip into the quiet and

let it speak hope to your heart.

Watching the horizon

Twelve seagulls sit along the cottage rooftop,

scanning the horizon,

like tiny white sentinels,

poised,

watchful,

alert.

Are they offering a lesson in mindfulness?

Teaching me to sit still,

to linger,

to pay attention

without agenda or need,

without expectation or hope.

Watch the horizon, they seem to say.

Be open to what appears.

Weaving

Keep moving forward, the sage advises,

but what if I missed something as I sped by?

Some bit of wisdom or insight that

blurred at the edges and

seemed inconsequential as

I careened through my days

like a meteor on a collision course,

zigzagging to avoid encounters that could blind or maim.

Slow down,

look up,

pause for a minute,

turn around,

pick up the threads that dangle along the border and

weave them into the tapestry.

Holding on or letting go

A friend once reminded me to “hold on loosely.” At the time, I was facing a great loss and was conflicted about holding on to what I was losing or letting it go.

I wanted to be finished with the pain and sadness of the impending loss. At the same time, I wanted to hold onto what had once been.

My friend used his hands to demonstrate how to hold on loosely—palms facing up and open, fingers spread just a bit apart. A colander came to mind—something that can both hold on and let go.

That image of his open hands (and the colander) has come back to me at other times of loss, and it occurred to me the other day as I thought of the death of my mother and the end of my work career.

Every day, I am reminded of both losses, and I try to be present to my grief when those reminders pop up.

My usual way of dealing with difficult emotions, though, is to stuff down my feelings and deny or delay the pain and sadness, even though I know it is healthier to allow the feelings of sadness and desolation to surface in their own time and to process them as they appear. Old habits are difficult to change, though, and this one is an ongoing challenge for me.

With every loss, we choose what we want to hold on to and what we want to let go. I am reminded of one of the gates of grief: Everything we love we will lose. Remembering this truth helps me hold onto the gift of what has been and let go of what falls through my open fingers.

loss-grief-vulnerability

And then

Just let me sort through this paperwork,

finish this project,

complete this assignment

and then I can listen to you.

Just let me clean the house,

do the laundry,

cook supper

and then we can take a walk.

Just let me mow the lawn,

wash the car,

sort through the stuff in the shed

and then we can play.

What is most important?

Why not do that first

and then tend to the rest?

Return to calm

The mundane tasks of everyday living

create a sense of tranquility

that stretches out like a

placid lake reaching for the horizon,

each day the same as the one before

and the one to come.

The monotony of routine and habit  

can lull me into believing that the future

will be made up of days like these.

I can sometimes tire of the monotony,

almost wishing for an interruption in the predictable—

until one inevitably comes along,

jolting me out of languid days and tossing me about

like a small boat caught in a storm.

And then I crave the sameness that had been,

the predictability of a daily routine.

I long to return to those times

when I could anticipate how each day would unfold,

when there were no surprises and

I could spend hours daydreaming about future travel or

gathering with friends.

I cannot stop or wish away these unwelcome interruptions.

I can only take comfort in knowing

that the turbulence will end and

calm will return.