One minute I’m standing in my closet, deciding what to wear.
The next minute my mind transports me and I’m next to the bed in hospice, feeding her ice chips.
My throat tightens, my body tenses. Grief is reminding me it is still here. And though it hurts to feel loss, I am attempting to wake up to this moment where grief is washing over me. Again.
At the most unexpected moments I find myself reliving our times together. I am back in her basement apartment with her and Heather, sitting quietly, sharing deeply, being present, and looking the future right in the face. We all know death is closer, it is now that we need to be awake to.
I read recently that life is more like a series of letting go, than gaining anything. It seems like whatever corner we turn, we have to let go of something precious or something difficult. It’s waking up to what is and releasing what isn’t.
So that brings us to now, to Lent.
I’m again reminded of so much I am carrying that is not mine. My children’s future, the confusion of church, a friend’s crisis. They are all part of me, but they aren’t me or mine to fix.
During breakfast this morning, my daughter said, “I wonder what it is like to live as a missionary?” So strange I thought, I had been thinking the same thing recently. It wasn’t the excitement of spreading the gospel that lured me. It was the act of letting go of all the earthly possessions that weighed me down and moving into a space where I felt lighter and more aware of the world around me. So, being a missionary in the jungle or even the inner city isn’t in my near future. But can that living lighter and letting go still be a part of my story?
I am taken back to moments that are holy ground for me. Standing around a hospital bed the night before a major surgery, feeding ice chips to someone I loved who was slipping away, sitting with my dad at a coffee shop- remembering our stories from Detroit, stitching a quilt with my mom, kisses from a child who crawls into my bed in the early hours of the morning.
Now. Right now. Sitting at this table. Coffee in hand. Sun shining through the window.
I want to make room for these moments where I feel the grief, experience gratitude for the love and sit being warmed by the sun. This life is meant to be lived, every bit of it. The grief, the loss, the gifts, the love. I’m in a continual state of waking to it.
It’s letting go of the things that aren’t mine and stepping into each moment that life is offering me. It’s not the reliving the guilt of things past. It’s in the learning from and letting go of all my mistakes. These are all the steps toward love and living. Where is God in this? Where is His wisdom? Macrina Widederkehr says, “It is hidden in the deepening places of your life, even the places that are waiting for your arrival.”
Lent is calling us to awareness of the real. Awareness to the need to let go. It’s a quieting of self and and opening of the heart. It’s not the willpower of giving things up, but giving space by letting go. It’s silence brought on by the stripping away of our life “noise” and the things we use- life pleasures- to temporarily fill that space. ” Richard Rohr reminds us that it isn’t something we do on our own, but entering into what has already been given to us.
This is the real “try harder” that applies to Lent, and its ultimate irony is that it is not a trying at all, but an ultimate surrendering, dying, and foundational letting go. You will not do it yourself, but it will be done unto you (Luke 1:38) by the events of your life. Such deep allowing is the most humiliating, sacrificial, and daily kind of trying! Pep talks seldom get you there, but the suffering of life and love itself will always get you there. Lent is just magnified and intensified life.”
So, as I feel the pain of grief or revel in the beauty of the sun, I go deeper. I allow myself the freedom to accept the life that already is. I use this season to accept all that is being offered to me.