The practice of ‘Letting Go’ in the Lenten Season

The practice of ‘Letting Go’ in the Lenten Season

A Jersey shore seagull with a broken wing cannot fly. A blackbird that clings to a tree branch cannot fly. A bat that clings to the gutter of your home cannot fly.

And a person that clings to the past cannot fly in the spiritual life, in the single life, in the marital life.

A person that clings to the past cannot live in the present, cannot live fully, cannot live freely.

A husband or a wife that clings to a grudge or to a hurt or to a bad memory or to blaming others cannot live fully and freely and lovingly. This clinging can become a heavy burden. It can become baggage that we drag around. It can weigh us down emotionally and spiritually. It can damage us intra-personally and interpersonally.

Even though, like Jesus, we have been baptized. Baptism does not abolish our humanness. It does not abolish human weaknesses. It does not abolish our human inclination to cling to the past.

Sadly, there are no quick-fix solutions to transform us. There are no gimmicks to transform us. There are no wonder fruits to transform us. There are no wonder vegetables to transform us. There are no super vitamins or super-foods to transform us.

There are no self-discovery seminars to transform us. There are no self-help books to transform us. There are no health spas to transform us. None of these strategies can lighten the burden that comes from clinging to the past.

The only strategy infused with the grace of God for all of us is to “let go.” The solution is to let go of the past, is to let go of past hurts, is to let go of bad memories, is to let go of blaming; is to let go of guilt; is to let go of the regrets. These negative emotions and painful memories are gone from the domain of your control. They are gone from your reach.

We can only control the present moment. We can only control the now. This realization can enable us to live supremely well in the now. This conviction can enable us to live in joy and spontaneity even in very difficult situations. The good and hopeful news is that “human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.” (William James)

Lent is a call to alter the attitudes of our minds and to live deeply and to live freely in the now. It is a call to live each moment completely in the now. Moreover, Saint Paul captures this aspect of the meaning of Lent and the fuller meaning of the spiritual life when he says “Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6:2).

In this now moment in this Lenten season, we can ask ourselves questions like “What grudge am I clinging to? What hurt am I clinging to? What bad memory am I clinging to? What resentment am I clinging to? What guilt am I clinging to?”

Then “talk” repeatedly in a loving and caring fashion to that hurt, to that bad memory, to that bad event, to that resentment, to that guilt, to that person. Then tell that person…tell that hurt…tell that event…tell that bad memory… tell that neurotic guilt…“You are not my life: I have a life to live; I have a destiny to fulfill; I have a call to follow.”

 

Msgr. Thomas Morgan is a retired pastor of the Diocese of Camden.