“The Letting Go’s”
Back at the beginning of the year, we visited with a dear friend of ours who is an elderly religious sister. I always look forward to visiting her, not only because she is a joy to be with, but also because I find that, each time we see her, the Lord speaks powerfully to me through her. For me, our visit last winter was a particularly memorable one. She shared about a conversation that she’d had recently, with some of the sisters with whom she lives, about “the big letting go’s” – those times in our lives when unexpectedly, or perhaps, not unexpectedly, we have to let go of that which we hold very dear. There are many such moments in life, but some are more poignant. The sisters shared about experiences of receiving different missionary assignments or leaving missions they’d loved, times when they were unable to be present at the death of loved ones, and experiences of stepping back from active ministry due to illness or declining health. While anyone’s list of such moments will have their own nuances, the reality that all of our lives contain them is clear enough. So, the notable thing from our conversation wasn’t that she spoke of these moments; but what touched me was the way she spoke of her own “letting go’s.” It was clear that she had deeply felt all that she was letting go of, and she didn’t try to hide that, but there was no resentment or bitterness, no critical spirit or blame – really, there was no edge at all in her words. She did communicate her sincere acceptance of what had happened, her very real journey to get to the place of truly embracing the reality, her intimate relationship with Jesus which had been strengthened through the experience, and the fruit of deep peace which abides in her as a result of it all.
Over these last six months, there have been many “letting go’s” for all of us. I have found myself frequently calling to mind this conversation with our dear friend; she may be retired from teaching, but I have learned so much from her. She has interiorized an important life-lesson (not just knowing it in her mind, but living it with the reality of all its daily implications). And as a good teacher, which she has been throughout her life for so many, she made this lesson accessible for me, not just to be memorized and restated, but to be assimilated and lived. While we don’t know what will happen with the schools this year, I think this is a lesson we could all try to learn during this time. This pandemic, with all of its lingering restrictions and uncertainties about the future, gives us an abundance of opportunities for big and small “letting go’s.” They are not simply to be avoided or ignored, or even just merely survived; they are opportunities for ever-deeper union with the Lord, the fruit of which is peace.
Is there something the Lord is asking you to let go of?
-Sr. Kelly Francis, CFR