I have two daughters. One just got married. It’s been a lifetime of letting go with both of them. They wanted to take first steps. I needed to let go. They started preschool and needed to go into class. I had to let go. They learned how to drive and got a license. I had to let go of the car keys so they could drop into their hands before they left the house. My husband and I took each of them with a car of stuff loaded for college, first one to Scripps College, then the other to Sonoma State. We hugged them, let go, and quietly went to the car to drive home. Our older daughter decided to study abroad in Chile, then continued to do doctoral research there. Every time she left, I hugged her tight at the airport, then let go. As my younger daughter’s wedding approached last month, I felt a little unsettled inside and couldn’t figure out why. Until I realized that when the service and then the full night ended, though we had let go so many times before this, it was yet a new dimension of letting go. Wow. It just never ends, does it?
Yet I celebrate the practice my girls have organically given me. Because I know it has helped prime me for lots of other much needed letting go. As I have aged, I have needed to let go of each former woman I was in order to move into the new woman I am always becoming. When I felt nudges and calls to move out from pastoral ministry into full time spiritual formation work as a spiritual director, retreat leader, writer and speaker, all the times my parents graciously let me go along with the practice of letting my girls go over and over surely helped me to trust and let go into new ways of companioning others. When the pandemic hit, and every routine and way of being soon went up for grabs, I know I was more easily able to let go of what was than I might have been because of the practice of letting go so many times before. When I needed to begin a fresh, more intentional journey of looking at and into my white privilege, it was a lot of practice trusting enough to let go many times before and breath through the labor necessary to carry me through to a different way of being – as a child, a parent, in relationship with my sense of vocation – that made that possible and continues to sustain me in that necessary work now.
On October 22nd, the wedding was amazing. And, yes, there were some tears at the end of the night. Not tears of resistance, though. Droplets of gratitude for the often unrecognized practices Life organically invites us to again and again that serve as thresholds to so many sacred next places. Believe me, I hardly have letting go figured out. I do know, however, that practice has mattered. And for the sake of all the children of the world, I intend to keep at it.
For consideration and contemplation:
Though there are certainly times we need to hold on, reflect on the times you have let go or struggled to let go in your life. Are there things you are resistant to letting go of right now? What has helped you let go in the past? How might you lean on or into your experience, friends, family, faith, creation, other sources of strength and encouragement, to let go of something you need to let go of?
When you are ready, take three slow, deep breaths. See what might rise worthy of your gratitude. Give thanks. With anything unsettling in you, be gracious with your self. Remember it does not need to be resolved today. Remember that Endless Love is surrounding and holding you. Lean back into that.