Friday, July 14, 2017

Letting Go

In The Fantasticks, El Gallo says, "There is a curious paradox that no one can explain: who understands the secrets of the reaping of the grain? Who understands why spring is born out of winter's laboring pain, or why we all must die a bit before we grow again?"
Life has but one central problem: the need to let go. With the possible exception of abject deprivation, nearly every symptom, complex, problem, issue that humans experience can be traced to some dimension of the need to release something that is hindering or blocking. Sometimes it is not necessarily a bad thing that we need to let go of. It may be beautiful, precious, or a talent aching to be shared. The athlete who is training, intent on breaking his or her record, must let go of fear, self-doubt, or perhaps behaviors that would drain off needed energy to push forward past the present limit. Sometimes it is an addiction, or grief, or self-loathing, or some emotion or memory. Sometimes whatever we need to shed is obvious if not easy. Sometimes it is hidden, maybe insidious.
Take any path, religious, spiritual, psychological, or some other—any path that will lead you to know yourself and not some false image of yourself—and you will find that the destination is a place of peace. Strangely it comes not from anything you possess, material or non-material, but from what you are able to part with.
The heart of discipleship is having nothing you cannot afford to lose. Only when we are able to lose it all do we ever discover the proper place of the obverse of letting go: holding on. That is the paradox. Grasping and holding, especially for the insecure, will always be more powerfully attractive than letting go. Letting go feels like dying because it is an act of dying.
But letting go comes with a very big warning. Be sure when you let go that what is left you give to a good and true Master, whoever that may be, called by whatever name. For when the house is swept clean, the demons compete to occupy it.
Letting go never ends. That is why it is ultimately transformative. We all must die a bit before we grow again.

© Frank Gasque Dunn, 2017

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