The Great Letting Go

At some point in my mid-thirties I realized I was holding on a little too tightly. It manifested as an unshakeable anxiety about having control over my life, about what I thought I was supposed to be doing.

This eventually led was a very Dante-esque experience: Midway through the journey of my life, I was lost.

Now, if you’ve read Dante’s Divine Comedy you know that once he found himself in that dark woods, he was found by God, but then he had to journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise until finally, he saw God face to face, and experienced an unmediated encounter with divine love.

But before I, or Dante, could move forward, we had to let go. For Dante it was exile from his beloved Florence and the end of his political career. For me, it meant an end of a career path that I truly thought was my vocation, and with it a great sense of loss and grief, even of annihilation: If I was no longer this, then what was I?

Well, as time unfolded in it’s slow and steady way God’s grace poured into my broken heart like water through cracks in the cold stone and I realized that I was not annihilated: In fact, if anything, I was expanded, and the world itself and even God seemed more expansive too. The rules of life I had followed and any sense I had it all figured out fell away, and this great cosmos of deep love and deep loss opened up before me. So much freedom and so many things to pursue, so little time, and lots of choices that needed to be made with patience, wisdom, and discernment.

I’ve continued to live with this sense through the pandemic. As we’ve welcomed a new baby, and some old opportunities have faded, and new opportunities have opened up, I’ve pondered and prayed, treasuring it all in my heart.

In a time of great stress and upheaval, it’s somewhat inevitable that we will begin to focus on the essentials of life: what am I doing, who am I doing it with, and why am I doing it?

You have a limited amount of time to decide, and the clock is ticking.

Lent is a good time to slow down, take a step back, and consider these realities: you have opportunities, you have limitations, and you only have so much time.

Eventually, almost anything and everything you pursue, outside of love, will be something you have to let go of: Your job, your dreams, your politics, your opinions, all of it will at best be fodder for the next generation to discard or preserve, to judge worthy of remembering or of the garbage heap.

Today is a good day, the only day really, to prayerfully consider what is essential and what is non-essential in your life, knowing that one day we will be asked to let go of everything that is not love, and that will be the Great Letting Go. But I think we’ll be surprised how much more we have when that’s all we’ve got left.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Daniel J. Miller says:

    Thanks, Michael. That last paragraph is refrigerator and magnet worthy. A great daily reminder. . . And speaking of what’s essential, what a handsome bunch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Dan!

      Like

  2. Sally Sanem says:

    “Are you kidding?!!” I loved it! Much to think about from your writing. Only so much time……….One of your best! Send it to the Leaven. Love that picture!

    Like

  3. Anonymous says:

    I love your writing, and a glimpse into your heart and soul. I couldn’t agree more with the need to release the tight clench on life and the magic that happens in the “letting go”… big and small miracles. Cheering for your always over here! Thanks for the insights.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. maliseobanion says:

    Enjoyed your beautiful reflection this morning in “Give Us This Day.” Looking forward to more. And I agree with Dan above—great looking family! A lot of joy in that picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading my work and for your kind words. It means a lot.

      Like

  5. Robert L Schmaltz says:

    “…For me, it meant an end of a career path that I truly thought was my vocation, and with it a great sense of loss and grief, even of annihilation: If I was no longer this, then what was I?” This resonates, well. Recently, I found myself in a similar place. Often I return to it, allowing discontent to stir up doubt toward the fact that apart from where I had hoped I to be I am actually now closer to God. This by letting go of what I want and accepting what Christ offers to those in need. It’s been difficult, it remains challenging, knowing and accepting we are not first any vocation I believe in; first and always, we are a part to God’s creation. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Robert, for your thoughtfulness. It is a hard process indeed. One that takes place in Gods time. But I love your insight: “first and always, we are a part of God’s creation.” I’ll pray for you as it continues to unfold. Thank you for reading my work.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Michael you cannot know how timely this article was for me…..As I find myself enmeshed in my own struggle with decisions of what to let go and what to hold on to and the fear associated with it all….here comes my much younger and yet always much wiser nephew to give me a grounding, provide hope amidst the fear…..and a sense that in letting go, rather than losing something, I might actually be setting myself up for growth. While I WISH I held that deep abiding faith you possess, hopefully my tenuous hold on my relationship with God will give me the strength to take the leap….BTW your family is darling – hopefully SOON I can see all of you in person once again….Aunt Janey

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Aunt Janey! It is a scary spot to be, on the precipice of change. I’ll be praying for you, please pray for us as we weather this crazy time. Can’t wait to see you again soon!

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  7. billtonnis says:

    I’m glad I came across your blog. I saw your reflection in Give Us this Day this week and your blog name really resonated with me and life in general. I, too, gave up a career that was all I knew to be in ministry. Looking forward to reading more of your insights. Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Bill. I appreciate your thoughtfulness. I look forward to hearing your feedback on future writing.

      Liked by 1 person

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