Thursday, March 25, 2010

Holding on and letting go

Kathy, a Quaker friend, spoke out of the silence of our worship on Sunday to share the seemingly contradictory advice that we often need to “hold on and let go.”

She used skippering a small sail boat in a stiff wind as her example.

She described herself and a friend, a novice, skimming over the river. As the skipper, Kathy had a tight hold on the main sheet. Her back to the wind, she was arched out over the water as a counterbalance to the gusts in the sail. The small craft heeled precariously, the water playing with the boat’s gunwales.

Kathy held on; her companion was seized with fear.

It was then that Kathy realized that without holding on (literally to the sheet) and letting go (of fear), sailing could never be the joy it was to her.

How often does life and joy require “holding on and letting go”?

It happens twice a week in our house when I play Scrabble with my wife and mother-in-law. We find that when we stay focused (holding on) but are open to new ways of looking at the letters (letting go of old ways) we discover the best move.

The same is true with raising a child (or with any important relationship): hold on and let go. It’s tough to know what the proper mix should be day to day, but it’s clear that some amalgam is needed.

And then there’s our relationship with ourselves. There’s the holding on (Get a grip!) and letting go (Relax! Breathe!).

Kathy’s ministry was a vivid reminder that we can do both simultaneously, if we only allow ourselves to.

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