June is a strange month. It is a time of summation and also a time of moving on. When one thinks of June, one often remembers graduation from school. Scholastic programs are ending and many young men and women are saying goodbye to friends that they have been with for years. There are classmates from my grammar school who I never saw again after the graduation ceremony! This is a strange feeling since so much has been shared. There are so many collected memories that cannot even be adequately remembered years later at reunions.
Sometimes, the feeling of permanency is really an illusion. We think things will stay the way they are forever; but that is never true. Everything moves, or must be considered dead. We have to get used to this idea and the needed action on our part to keep pace with this: the art of letting go.
Letting go is a very difficult and trying concept to accept. We want to be at rest, for moving on is contrary to our deepest wishes. But we must learn how to do this because of the benefits it brings; since this is part of life, the sooner we see this, the better our lives will become.
I remember reading a key book a number of years ago by a woman named Judith Viorst. It was called “Necessary Losses”. In that book, the author talks about how learning to let go is a necessary and important part of growth from womb to tomb. At birth, we have to let go of the warmth and the security of the womb to be ushered into a cold world where, upside down, you are given a good slap on the rear end to teach you to breathe air! This process of letting go continues throughout life, right up to the moment of our death, when we have to let go of everything and everybody in this life and go onto our promised inheritance.
This letting go is an essential part of the spiritual life. The great saints speak about “detachment” in this same process. It is important, they say, not to be attached or hold onto anything since God calls us beyond our comfort zones of reality and custom. St. John of the Cross counsels us to hold onto ‘nada’: nothing.
This process of letting go is true to the reality of our lives. Every day, we have to let go of things both small and great, both pleasant and unpleasant. Those who get stuck in the past, as for instance those who are stuck in past resentments, not only make little progress in this life, but actually rot in place; so destructive are resentments.
One of my favorite examples of this is from the writings of a Medieval spiritual writer named Guigo who was a Carthusian solitary. He said that creation was a song that God is singing right now, and sin is the attempt to hold onto one of the notes and refusing to move on with the song. If you have ever heard the beauty of an organ playing, you know how annoying it is when a pipe gets stuck and cannot be stopped making its one sound. You can just scream as that one note continues to blare and the music stops!
So it is with the natural beauty of God’s song and our willingness to trust its melody and let it happen within us and around us. This is what happens when we approach reality with the reverence and the detachment necessary so as not to cling to memories or personal agendas or expectations, but to move on and be content with what God is saying right now and right here.
And so we say good bye to classmates and put away our pictures of past vacations and accept, gracefully, future plans that health or sickness proposes, always remaining flexible and open to the Divine Action that often cannot be understood except in hindsight.
It is an act of Faith to let go and let God be God. Abandonment to Divine Providence is the key to growth and to lasting joy.