Letting Go... The Franciscan Challenge

For Newness to Grow

main image

Why do I hold onto so much? Why do I not let go of the thousand thoughts that fill my brain, stuff in my memory that whirls around like leaves caught in Autumn's self-clearing breeze? And why do the leaves twist, almost screaming in the wind? Pride. They do not want to give up what is already not theirs.

Ah, so we come to the truth of the matter, which is why autumn in our north country is so rightly called Fall. Fall. Colder winds and rains tear off leaves so dearly held for nine months of tightly clasped, oh-so-important leaf-called mortal things.

The trees lose everything they have worn as winter once again creeps its return, hiding in frosted mornings that slip into awareness as slyly as a cat stalks its mouse-prey. And both are stripped naked, giving way to the truth of their bare reality: death.

For newness to grow, many things must be let go. The dearness of the trees' seeming riches: leaves. And nuts, fruits and seeds. The tree holds tightly to these things. Yet she cannot prevail against winter's wise pruning. There must be room for inner grace of yearning. A stripping off of Fall's dead leaves, no matter how lovely, must open us into a new way of being: an emptiness that yearns for more in the less, for a different holding in the need for owning—a simplicity of being in the empty nest's offering: “Fill me instead with Thee,” cries the Tree. “That I may live free of me. Birth me into God's simplicity.”

Teach me what to hold and what to let fall. It may not be things at all. It may be to see in the eyes of that Sister, the Divine Brother, Who gazes with a love that shows me my sister (and/or my brother) are of one to another.

Bound in burning leaf colors, Heart of the Other tells us that Stuff is not going to stumble us if we keep our eyes and heart on the Other, Who is our Brother in every Way, the only Truth to be trusted and Who is Life unto an eternity of becoming a sister, a brother to Love.

Then will we forever dance with Divine Life, warmed by the Son's soft breath, the Father's immensity teaching us the kindness of true humility and the Spirit weaving strands of leaf lights: infinity of beauty, in the God of pure Unity.

She is looking again, this Sister of our mutual Divine Brother, but what do I see now?! A kind amusement. I think she is humoring me. And I am grateful, because our Brother is smiling quite openly. What a time we shall have with Love in eternity!


Rapunzel and Letting Go

main image

As a child, I reveled in reading fairy tales. Among them was the story of Rapunzel who was gifted with long, golden braided hair, but was confined to a tower with only a window for access. Whenever her prince friend wanted to see her, he would call out, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your long hair.” She would toss her braids outside the window, and up he would climb.

So, you are probably wondering, what has that got to do with letting go?

Sometime ago, I heard a call, not to let down my hair, but to let go of my short, gray, unbraided hair. No prince called, but instead I heard the effects of chemotherapy.

It was a tremendous reminder that while there are things in life that each of us can choose to sort through or remove from life, there are other matters over which we have no control. Actually, I found it relatively easy to go through my CD collection last year in order to donate music that was no longer of any interest. On the other hand, seeing my scalp without its usual covering was a bit disconcerting. I had a choice. Would I accept the inevitable reality or would I mope?

Letting go does have its rewards. Happily, I have been blessed with a great network of supportive friends. One witnessed my tears and said it was ok to weep. Others have supplied me with delightful head coverings that keep my head warm both day and night. Another said that I now look like the Orthodox Jewish women who never show their hair. One complimented that the colored scarf makes me look like a fashionista! A great blessing is that I now have a gift of empathy for other women who have lost their hair. I know what it means to them, I feel their loss. But, I have discovered that in letting go, I have received more than I could have ever expected to receive in return. For this I am grateful.        

Image by Tilixia from Pixabay

Fortune Cookie

main image

Some time ago while breaking open a fortune cookie, I received a “fortune” that was rather surprising. The words on the paper read: “God looks after you in a special way.” Never had I seen a fortune that referred to God or to any aspect of Christianity. Yet, there it was. Was that “fortune” a coincidence, or was that truly a message from the Lord? I believe it was the latter. God was trying to get my attention, and God succeeded. That is one “fortune” I have kept in my scripture book, and one that continues to make a difference in my life!

At times when fear tries to slither its way into my mind, or anxiety attempts to throw me into a tizzy or worry about a problem, thinking about the words, “God looks after you in a special way,” has a way of quieting me down and bringing a sense of calmness that nothing else can. After all, God has looked after me in the past and is certainly taking care of me now. Why could I possibly worry that God will drop me like a hot potato as the future continues to unfold? It is just not going to happen! 

So, I invite you to share in my special “fortune.”  When the future looms at its darkest, and it’s almost impossible to see even a glimmer of light, always remember: “God looks after you in a special way!”

Photo by Elena Koycheva on Unsplash