letting go

kathyescobar spiritual formation, the carnival in my head 8 Comments

well here are, over halfway into lent on the road to easter.  it’s an odd journey for many; i know many of you are honoring the season in some way, shape or form, and yet others of you don’t have it on your radar at all for all kinds of reasons.

one potentially dangerous thing about spiritual practices is that sometimes they can make people feel like losers.  the “spiritual” people get all excited about things like lent & quiet & intention, but those that connect with God differently or maybe not at all right now can feel left out, confused, lonely.  i have tried to communicate over and over again in our community the importance of being open to what works for each individual person, not what works for the person next to us. for some, intentionally not celebrating lent is probably a good idea while for others, it might be time to open our hearts to the possibility of listening for God more clearly.

for me personally, i will say it has been a good season, a hard season.  i always like intention & when i make myself vulnerable, ready to receive, usually something happens. it’s not always what i like to have happen, but usually something happens.   we had an evening of reflective stations at the refuge a few weeks ago, different sacred places to connect with the themes of lent; it was a beautiful experience, and one theme kept permeating the quiet across the variety of stations: the need to let go, to relinquish control.

then, in a spiritual direction exercise i did with some seminary students a few weeks ago i got a strong & very clear image of a rope with 2 people on either side of it.  one person was holding it very loosely, barely touching it & the other person was pulling hard, hard, hard.  the scene i saw was the person pulling so hard was eventually going to fall on their butts while the other person holding it loosely would still be standing.   the image initially wasn’t for me–it was in response to someone else’s sharing—but God is funny & uses other people’s stories to do some work in mine.

so often, i am the one pulling hard on the rope.  too hard.  way too hard.  there are a million different potential metaphors for it but this lenten season i have had an incredible sense of needing to slacken the rope.  to loosen my grip on things.  to hold the rope more gently, more kindly, more loosely.  my tendency is always to pull hard or let go completely, so slackening it, letting some of the tautness out of it while still holding on, is very difficult.

i walked a labyrinth a few days after i got this image & it was by far the strongest metaphor of the journey (i’ve done a labyrinth walk a couple of times during this season, each was a completely different experience, see below for details on a different experience).  at each turn on this particular labryinth i made a conscious effort to slacken the rope, to let my hands loosen their grip, to let God’s gentle words “let it go…keep letting it go” guide me.  relinquishing control.  letting go.  accepting what is instead of what isn’t.  trusting.  letting go of outcomes.  letting go of expectations.  letting go, letting go, letting go.

so that’s just a small touch of what i’ve been learning through lent.  we have been sharing stories around the refuge of what this season has been like for people.  some have enjoyed it.  some are annoyed.  but regardless, God is revealing himself in weird ways in the wilderness & for me, the words “let go, let go, let go” are echoing in all kinds of lovely & challenging ways.

i’d love to hear some of your stories,  no matter how big or small or annoying.  

  • what you are learning this lenten season?

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ps: christine sine always hosts a great series of posts on different themes; i contributed a post for her lent series called honoring the cracks, that highlights my second labyrinth experience this month if you want to check it out.

one of my favorite reads each day have been short lent poems starting with 40 words, 39 words, 38 words, etc. by cheryl lawrie like this:  21 days of lent