For the past ten years my husband and I have gathered each New Year’s with two other couples who come from out of town. Originally we got together so that the three of us who were teaching together could work—and also play. Each year has been a delight.
This year, for a variety of reasons, most likely was the last. Everything we did I found myself enjoying at a heightened level, wanting to soak in all the goodness and joy. The loss feels like it leaves a big hole, and I grieve.
Life is full of losses. Things come and things go. Some losses—such as the death of a beloved family member, the loss of a home, the destruction of dreams—are very hard, and sometimes even tragic. As we age and die, everything our egos have held dear, bit by bit, is lost. So my poignant loss of the New Year’s gathering is an opportunity to learn and practice the art of letting go. Maybe then the harder losses can be handled with more equanimity than they otherwise would be.
It seems to me that there are several practices that are a part of letting go. One is gratitude. Any loss that we grieve—whether originally a treasure or a trial—had in it something that was precious. Spending time knowing, feeling, remembering what was good lets us take deeper into our cells that joy. Adding gratitude is a reminder that these good things are from Something or Someone greater than we are, which adds perspective and a bigger picture.
When anger or deep unhappiness comes with the loss, it may help to look at what is going on with, or what is under, these feelings. Forgiveness may be a key practice for letting go. It lets us release the poison we feed on in our anger while thinking to do harm to the other, and frees us to move forward.
Letting go isn’t easy. Moses led the Hebrew people out of slavery in Egypt. They hadn’t journeyed far before the people began to complain and wish they were back in Egypt. When Jesus told his disciples he was going to die, they did not like that idea, and when it happened, they were at first at a loss. But as Jesus’ death opened new possibilities, so our losses can be a door into something new. May we learn to let go so we can watch for and see the gift that can come in the loss.
What is your experience with loss and letting go?
How does faith fit into your practice of letting go?
Loving God, thank you for the blessings that we have known in that which is now gone. Stand with us and strengthen us as we let go into what is to come.
For further reference:
“You lack one thing: go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (See Mark 10: 17-21).
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth” (See Revelation 21: 1-5).