Friday, 25 November 2016

Letting go


As the calendar inches towards December 1st, I wonder what the run up to Christmas brings to mind for you?  And where does 'Advent wonder' and 'Advent waiting' fit, in your response to that question?
In a world teetering on the edge of the frenzied consumerism that characterises Christmas here, I find myself pondering once more the simplicity of 'less', the blessings of 'being content' and the importance of 'letting go'.  I am as prone to get caught up in the cultural expectations of the season as the next person, but God has been teaching me that in the midst of what I don't have, I actually have enough.  in Him, I have all I need.

Like many people, for years I have found Christmas to be the hardest time of year; a deeply painful season to somehow be negotiated and 'survived' until I could breathe a sigh of relief on the other side of it.  But this year, through the kindness and skill of others, God has shown that He has different dreams for me than the deeply emotional dreams that I've been clinging to.  I have learnt about 'letting go'  ...   about surrendering every situation and every dream to God.  It's His world after all; His Kingdom that is somehow being birthed through the action of His Spirit in us.  And Jesus' entire ministry was a model of letting go. Jesus said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains alone;  but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Ignatian spirituality teaches the importance of detachment, by which is meant - the place where we have surrendered to God the outcome of our hopes, fears, and worries, and we trust God enough that no matter what happens, “God’s grace will be enough for me.”.  And Peter Scazzero, in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, speaks of detachment as "the great secret of inner peace".  
After some skilful and compassionate grief therapy, I have finally been enabled to approach this special season with peace, and the expectation that God has good things ahead. And this year, I intend to approach the season of Advent with gratitude; gratitude for the blessings I do have, instead of regret for the things I don't have.

Mary Oliver, in her poem, Mornings at Blackwater, writes 

What I want to say is
that the past is the past,
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable
of choosing what that will be,
darling citizen.

So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.

And live
your life.
Are there any expectations or fears that you need to let go of in order to embrace the season of Advent in an attitude of simplicity and peace, wonder and expectation?  ...  in order to fully 'live your life'?
May God show you the answer to that question  ...  and may you have the courage to take the first step.
Have a richly blessed Advent as we prepare to celebrate the Incarnation.