I having been waiting for inspiration for a new blog for some time. Life has been hectic and hasn’t allowed space for a bit of pondering.
But today was different! We finally put our two sons on the plane, bound for Bali and then on to Europe. Although we will see them for a bit while they are away, it was like a new phase of our life had started. Suddenly we were letting go of them in a way we had not done before. Suddenly they would be really on their own. Ah!!!!
This idea of letting go has been with me for a while now. Listening to the John Denver song, “Leaving on a jet plane” on my way home today just reinforced the idea. I let go of the boys as they got on a jet plane. While we are a pretty close family it seems right and proper that they venture out on their own, albeit together, to see what some of the world has to offer!!!
I have had to let go of quite a few things in the last year, a hospital, a research unit, the people I worked with, and the title I carried with me for a number of years. It has been good and bad, but I know change is never easy and will always be fraught with highs and lows. We have to find meaning and purpose in new pursuits and let go of what has gone, in order to remain sane!!!
Yet we have to accept that time inevitably leads to this change, this need to let go.
As a parent we experience it at almost every stage of our children’s lives, from the time when they are a baby and a toddler to when they are in high school and then going off Europe. Our relationship changes and our children grow up. We have to let go of that dependency and embrace these young adults! And then learn to live without them.
We have to practise the art of letting go within our own lives as we grow older. Suddenly we are not the leader of the pack, but supporting other, younger people to take charge, and to lead us. Suddenly we do not have the energy or the ideas that we once did, or even the mental capabilities. Sometimes it is hard to accept this lesser position. That we cannot influence a situation or event just by our sheer will. Someone will come up with a new idea or a new way of doing things that changes the nature of our world and we are not the driver, but a bit player.
It is made worse when illness and disease catches us, often unawares. Illness means we have to stop what we are doing and take stock. We have to face often months of treatment, and focus on repair rather than doing the activities we have always done and have been a part of. This is hard, very hard.
And then there is the time when there is no treatment, and we have to face letting go of this world. Without much more than a final wave we have to leave, whether we have completed our tasks or not.
So I realise letting go of what we know and love is often painful. It is having to face change that often is not of our making.
But there is always a shining light. Something that helps us through.
We have a young woman at our church, around 19, who is full of the urgency and enthusiasm of youth. She is frankly amazing and has been involved in many actions and activities related to Amnesty International while supporting the refugees in Northam with visits. In between this she is studying and leading the life of a single, social person. We as a church are carried forward by her and with her, and we do what we can to support these initiatives. Letting go of the need to control everything or do everything opens the ways for others to exercise their gifts and their talents to better our world. This young woman is certainly exercising hers.
Another young woman has been in Rome this past week, also associated with our church, as a representative of an international youth coalition supporting the Pope’s position on climate change. She was part of a huge march to St Peter’s square involving people from many different faiths, calling on governments to take action at the upcoming United Nations summit. While the Pope released the encyclical it is the young who will be the catalyst for change. And these young people need not be people of faith, but rather of passion and commitment.
So letting go of one thing leaves room for other things, or other people. Other lights to shine.
Letting go of our boys will give them space to mature more fully as independent adults.
Letting go of the need to be the leader allows others to develop those skills, others that will take us forward. If we can support and nurture their passion it will give us all a future.
Letting go of a busy work life helps us to embrace new ways of being, to open a space for different ideas and visions. To spend time talking, laughing and supporting one another. It allows us to discover what is important and what’s not, and to strive to embrace each day as it comes. Letting go of some things gives space for others.
And letting go of the idea that we are invincible, that we are never going to get sick, let alone die one day, gives us a new appreciation of life, with all its diversity and joy. Even if the road back to health is a long slow one.
So I have come to the conclusion that all of life is one big letting go process.
The key is how we face this inevitable change in our lives ……
Perhaps we just need more practise at it.
Matt and I are dealing with the trauma of our loss head on. We are letting go of work and the boys by going on holiday!!!
I will keep you posted from the Camino (don’t worry, we are walking for 6 days, not 28!).