Young Souls Service – August 7, 2016
“Letting Go” Sermon
By Cledwyn Jones
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” – Lao Tzu
Letting go. “Letting go” and I have a long history together; in some ways, it was the first spiritual practice I truly adopted. When graduating high school, perhaps steeped all too long in the Deep South’s rather Biblical culture, I quite literally put away my “childish things”. Into a small wooden box I placed a pearl acquired at the Epcot Center at Disney World, the rattle from a six-foot-long rattle snake found lurking outside my one-time childhood home, and numerous other trinkets and trappings of my youth. I gifted this box to my father, and then, as in the start of any good coming-of-age tale, alone went west, looking to find myself far from the family I had known. In that journey, or so the story goes, I even found my name; long before I was Cledwyn, my middle name, and that of my grandfather before me, I was, for eighteen years, one of myriad Mike Joneses. But the time had come to let go of all that, of the “I” I had been, and discover the “I” I might be.
Not every attempt in letting go, however, is so steeped in adventure. A few short years ago, listless and lost I was let go from a job that had paid the bills but had worn me down to the bone. The freedom that came with that release was wondrous… for the first few weeks. But, as I tried, once again, to reinvent myself, to find anew my calling, I met that bitter sting of defeat. Weeks became months, and month over month tumbled into a year, and everything that I thought about myself, about who I was to be, about who I had to be, trembled before the open question that was my life. In the darkest of those hours, I even tried to push away those who loved me, unable to see the “me” that I was convinced that I should be.
I count my blessings to have been loved with an intensity far fiercer than my self-regret.
Once, in a sermon Rev. Rob spoke of one’s ship coming in, blaring its horn, and how far too often we find ourselves clinging to the idea that we were traveling by train. It can be so very hard to let go of that train ticket, and all the dreams that were bound to that vision, to let land slip away to a sea, deep and unknown, unanticipated.
After over a year and a half of unemployment, and all the side-hustles that my mind could invent to keep me afloat, I found myself once again in the employ of a large corporation. I also found myself leaning upon those around me, in a way that, in an all-too-British sense of reserve, I might never have before. I found myself learning, again, who I could be. I found myself letting go of old plans, old visions, old ideas. I found myself, at times unexpectedly, truly happy.
I found myself, anew, again, again.
Martin Luther, sixteenth century, not twentieth, once wrote that, “This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road.”
May you, too, let go of what you have been, that you may continue becoming. Amen, and blessed be.