Young Souls Service – August 7, 2016
“Letting Go” Sermon
By Katie Hartin
I have moved five times in the last five years; lived on three different continents,
in million dollar homes and in huts with leaking roofs, broken locks and wild animals on my doorstep.
After so many iterations of packing up, saying goodbyes, and starting again in new places, I’ve learned how to do that part pretty well. Not to say that it’s easy, but the repetition certainly helps.
I’ve let go of colleagues and close friends when our busy lives and the lack of proximity meant that it took just too much effort to keep in touch with everyone. I’ve let go of my favorite places to sit and read or watch the sunset where being in that space made me feel safe and whole, and I’ve let go of what’s familiar – neighbors, bus drivers, baristas who all remember your name – and that’s hard, too.
But you learn that you’ll make new friends, find community and find new favorite spots. And while there’s some degree of comfort in knowing this, what I’ve learned is that sometimes what’s as hard as letting go is identifying what’s worth holding onto.
As a young person, I feel like my life is defined by a lot of big changes in close succession – starting a new job or career, moving for work or school, forming new relationships or ending them.
And as much as I am the biggest advocate of change as a means of personal growth, sometimes I admit I struggle to even find my footing.
With all of this moving around and turbulence in my life, I’ve had a lot of practice at letting go.
It’s like every time I’ve moved I’ve hit the refresh button
with a new cast of characters and a new rotation of images
each of these moves punctuated by the questions: What do I hold onto? Who do I hold onto? How do I hold on? And why?
When I was reflecting on the theme of letting go, I was reminded of Reverend Rob’s final sermon before his sabbatical, which was called, “With a Whole Heart.” And he reads the Robert Frost poem, “The Armful,” and tells this wonderful story of having too many parcels, having to set them all down in the road to try to stack them in a better load. But one of the messages of that sermon was when we feel like we just have too many things to hold, if we pare down our armful to the sum total of what we love in the world, then we become whole and our hearts become open.
So with each transition in my life, what parcels do I let drop? Which do I juggle at the edge of my fingertips, just barely grasping on? Which do I hold close to my heart? At each juncture, I re-evaluate my load.
I’ve held onto reverence for the earth which awakens all of my senses. Each time I set foot into the forest or even just lie in the grass, I feel like I’m freeing my inner most self. That was the what, why, how and who I hold onto just to give you an example.
I am 26 years old and my life’s journey has been bizarre, unexpected, and completely wonderful. I don’t expect stability in my life any time soon and, in all honesty, I’ve become accustomed to transience. I’ve learned how to let the wings set me free, but I’m still discovering how to let the roots hold me close – holding onto others and letting others hold onto me. For me, there is just as much vulnerability in making deeper connection as there is in letting go.
At the end of the day, after I’ve logged so many miles of cross-country, cross-Atlantic moves, standing there parcel-less is not how I want to stack my load. Even if I have to drop my armful sometimes, I’d rather gently re-stack it with intention, with love, and with a full heart, knowing that what I’m holding onto will set my spirit free.
We’re now in August, when some of us go back to school, when some of us return from vacations to settle back into work and into another year, it’s another moment of transition, so perhaps ask yourself, what brings me joy? What do I love? What makes me whole? Hold onto that.