As I write this post there are about twelve hours left in the year and the decade. Asia in several areas has already entered 2020. A word that has kept coming to me as we enter a new year is shift. There are global shifts ahead of us in the coming year and certainly in the decade. I wonder, for example, how much longer will North Korea exist in its present form? There are personal shifts for us which can involve health. Just this week we received word of a dear friend, just older than us, who had been in a several year battle with cancer. He was declared cancer free last week, only to have a heart attack after Christmas and passed away two days ago. None of us know when our final breath will be.
But as we wonder what shifts are ahead in 2020 and in the third decade of the 21st century, two other words have stood out to me. Let go.The art of living is learning how to let go, daily and hourly. Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest that I have learned much from, writes that letting go is 90% of spirituality. To let go is to live in an emptiness of expectations and anxieties, to focus on the gratefulness and contentment of life as it is. To live the life we are called to live, not the one we wish we had.
In my life there is a longstanding desire to fix something that I’ve been involved in for a long time. I have let myself at times get disappointed with the circumstances and seemingly my own lack of contribution to any change. This situation has gone on for over 25 years for me, and there is no sign of change entering 2020. But the words for me entering the year are let go. Let go of my expectations. Let go of my need to fix it. Let go of my hope even, for a deeper peace of resting in the stillness and trust.
There are many things in life we can’t fix. People that we long to change, and they don’t. We long to change ourselves, only to see in the mirror another Groundhog Day. When we let go, we engage in a deeper place of peace, of transformation. We are not alone in the universe, and there is Someone that loves us very much. In Christian theology, there is a word kenosis that has the idea of the emptying of the Incarnation, of God in Jesus becoming human. To let go is to be emptied, that we may be filled with a love and life that we could never dream of.
One of my favorite songs since childhood has been Let it be by Paul McCartney. To let go is to let it be. Paul was inspired to write this classic by a dream he had of his deceased mother (named Mary) appearing to him at the end of the bed. This was in a very difficult time in the Beatles’ history as a band. Paul had been in a time of anxiety and fretting over the future, and the words his mother Mary said to him that night were Let it be. Though Paul does not acknowledge that it was in his mind writing the song, it does echo similar words Mary said to the Angel in Luke 1:38 “Let it be done to me according to your word.”.
Let it be. These are words of wisdom Mary speaks to us as well. As we start a new year, a new decade, new shifts, may we find the grace to let go, to let be. There are many anxieties in our nations today, many struggles. Many divisions. The art of letting go, of letting be, is the art of living.
Hear the words of wisdom today. Let go. Let it be.