letting go

well here are, over halfway into lent on the road to easter.  it’s an odd journey for many; i know many of you are honoring the season in some way, shape or form, and yet others of you don’t have it on your radar at all for all kinds of reasons.

one potentially dangerous thing about spiritual practices is that sometimes they can make people feel like losers.  the “spiritual” people get all excited about things like lent & quiet & intention, but those that connect with God differently or maybe not at all right now can feel left out, confused, lonely.  i have tried to communicate over and over again in our community the importance of being open to what works for each individual person, not what works for the person next to us. for some, intentionally not celebrating lent is probably a good idea while for others, it might be time to open our hearts to the possibility of listening for God more clearly.

for me personally, i will say it has been a good season, a hard season.  i always like intention & when i make myself vulnerable, ready to receive, usually something happens. it’s not always what i like to have happen, but usually something happens.   we had an evening of reflective stations at the refuge a few weeks ago, different sacred places to connect with the themes of lent; it was a beautiful experience, and one theme kept permeating the quiet across the variety of stations: the need to let go, to relinquish control.

then, in a spiritual direction exercise i did with some seminary students a few weeks ago i got a strong & very clear image of a rope with 2 people on either side of it.  one person was holding it very loosely, barely touching it & the other person was pulling hard, hard, hard.  the scene i saw was the person pulling so hard was eventually going to fall on their butts while the other person holding it loosely would still be standing.   the image initially wasn’t for me–it was in response to someone else’s sharing—but God is funny & uses other people’s stories to do some work in mine.

so often, i am the one pulling hard on the rope.  too hard.  way too hard.  there are a million different potential metaphors for it but this lenten season i have had an incredible sense of needing to slacken the rope.  to loosen my grip on things.  to hold the rope more gently, more kindly, more loosely.  my tendency is always to pull hard or let go completely, so slackening it, letting some of the tautness out of it while still holding on, is very difficult.

i walked a labyrinth a few days after i got this image & it was by far the strongest metaphor of the journey (i’ve done a labyrinth walk a couple of times during this season, each was a completely different experience, see below for details on a different experience).  at each turn on this particular labryinth i made a conscious effort to slacken the rope, to let my hands loosen their grip, to let God’s gentle words “let it go…keep letting it go” guide me.  relinquishing control.  letting go.  accepting what is instead of what isn’t.  trusting.  letting go of outcomes.  letting go of expectations.  letting go, letting go, letting go.

so that’s just a small touch of what i’ve been learning through lent.  we have been sharing stories around the refuge of what this season has been like for people.  some have enjoyed it.  some are annoyed.  but regardless, God is revealing himself in weird ways in the wilderness & for me, the words “let go, let go, let go” are echoing in all kinds of lovely & challenging ways.

i’d love to hear some of your stories,  no matter how big or small or annoying.  

  • what you are learning this lenten season?

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ps: christine sine always hosts a great series of posts on different themes; i contributed a post for her lent series called honoring the cracks, that highlights my second labyrinth experience this month if you want to check it out.

one of my favorite reads each day have been short lent poems starting with 40 words, 39 words, 38 words, etc. by cheryl lawrie like this:  21 days of lent

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

8 Comments

  • Love the analogy of the tug-o-war piece. That whole great with analogies is what got me roped in here the first place, haha. 😉 Really though, I can connect with the hard Lent season.. I would say that this is one of the most growth inducing, hardest, yet at the same time one of the best seasons of my whole life.

    I am leaning into letting go of expectations of myself to completely *arrive* at who I am to be, tomorrow. Like if I strive hard enough, I can be the Model Stacy 3000 & never.ever.struggle.with.anything.ever.again.amen. God is revealing to me in this season so so much, and teaching that if I keep yelling at myself loudly to get it already, I may miss him in the midst. Yay for the process? 🙂

    Reply
  • Yeah, I choose not to do the Lent thing – my wife though is into it in a big way – what I’m thinking though is what can I give up that’s going to hurt (a little) to show that “I can”.

    I turned 50 in November and had a SP Ducati on the wish list this was my big 5 & 0 thing – have decided not to purchase and put the money to Kingdom use. My wife is going to Vietnam in July with her sister doing a bike tour top to bottom – I’m thinking there might be needs along the way.

    Reply
  • Cathy

    I seldom read your Blog but when I do. You seem to challenge me in what God is doing in my life. I think it’s great that Lent is right around the corner. But for me I want to see God in my everyday. So my Lent experience it watching a small creek start to swell from winter run off. I have been visiting a reteat location about ten miles up one of the valleys where I live. I could hear the water running under the ice for weeks and last week I could see where it broke through the ice and was now visible. The sound was still the same if you closed your eyes but the sight was of something that was not going back. Spring was on it’s way and something in my soul was very excited. I invisioned that day weeks earlier but seeing was believing or more envoking of my mood to see signs of Spring.
    Christ’s death and reserection is a simular experience. What do we do with the Spring of our life. We have had sermons about fruit in our lives. I think if we don’t plant in our spring time experiences we don’t harvest the fruit in the fall. I think God’s Spriritual Springs can happen all the time in our lives and when we choose to plant in them we harvest in do time. Keep up the good work and keep planting seeds for us to think about

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  • Lent – uggg

    Tried that “Lent” thing once.

    “Lent” a good friend $5,000. Oy Vey! 🙁

    Now – No money – No friend. 😉

    Reply
  • For Lent, I decided to do a written series of daily reflections on the Daily Office readings from the Book of Common Prayer. I posted them on my blog and thought they were pretty great to start out with.

    Then I realized, with about 10 days left to write about that my theology is completely unintegrated with what it means to be a stay-at-home parent, and to find myself (as my daily life — my feet– define me) I’m not sure the biblical stories are all that helpful.

    So, I realized the poverty of my theology and of the Bible.

    SO I’m listening…

    And now hearing the 8 month old crying, so I must go.

    Reply
  • stacy – yes, yeah for the process! so much learning, so annoying sometimes but oh so good. being human is a very important thing to learn to embrace…ah, easier said than done, though, especially with all kind of lovely baggage that says “more” “now” “or else”….love you and am thankful for your voice and unfolding journey. it’s beautiful to see.

    mark – now that’s a fun story. and what an amazing trip is ahead for them….

    tipper – thanks for these great images and your reflections here. i really appreciate them and they are great reminders of the power of the seasons as metaphors for our lives. i love spring in all kinds of ways and lent is a winter-y time, that’s for sure.

    amos – okay that was funny. oy vey is right.

    david – wow, that’s a cool story. i know that feeling so well, where sometimes i have an idea that seems so good, so lofty, so _____ & then i’m in the midst of it and realize that if i write about it, i’m just writing words that have nothing to do with my real experience. that is a powerful realization: “the poverty of your theology and of the Bible” in that moment. wow. seriously good. treasure every minute of those baby years. pretty soon they get to be 18 and ready to leave and you wake up thinking “where did all those years go?” so glad you are here, thanks for your thoughts…

    Reply
  • Letting go. Letting go. I’d love to let go.

    We lost Dad in early February. The funeral was two days before Ash Wednesday. The graveside interment of Dad’s ashes will be the day before Palm Sunday. In between has been paperwork, death certificates, and endless decisions. This is all the standard stuff when dealing with the death of a loved one. But it makes it tough to let go of things. And I hate this standard stuff.

    This has not been the normal Lent season. Won’t be a normal Easter either. I know that in my head. I don’t yet know that in my heart.

    Grief is very real right now. I dread the Good Friday service. Accepting what is, instead of that isn’t. I’ll try to work on that.

    Kathy, your blog is always refreshing. Always delightful. Always needed. Thank you!

    Reply
    • thanks for sharing, debbie. that’s a lot to grieve, so sorry for the loss of your dad and will be thinking of you as you all journey through it and allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. may you feel God’s presence in the midst. lots of love from afar.

      Reply

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