Sunday, July 17, 2005

A time to lose

The theme of meeting this morning was "letting go."

The initial minister spoke in a heart-felt, emotional way about her sadness at the impending death of the friend I spoke of in my last post. She also suggested that she's undergoing a renewed, severe economic crisis that may cause her to lose her house and garden, and referred to a family who had to euthanize its beloved dog yesterday. Her main point -- more bluntly and inelegently than how she said it -- was that it's all in God's hands anyway, and that most of what we're really losing isn't really so much our life or home, but our sense of control, and since control is an illusion anyway, why cling to it?

A number of messages that followed were in a similar vein, of accepting the inevitable and trusting in God. One Friend cautioned not to give up too soon and that sometimes you need to rage against the night. The meeting felt solemn, and sober, but not somber. The messages were comforting, and there was a sweetness to it.

My contribution, which was not spoken, would have begun with a quote attributed to Kenneth Boulding. He was asked, "Kenneth, how do you know you're saved?" "When none of me is wasted," he replied.

Few of us mourn losing something that has been used up, worn out, that has done its job, whose time is up. Most of the real sadness and pain I've had is tied up in having wasted the time, the relationship, the job, whatever it is that I lost, not the thing itself.

It's like the parable of the talents, where the man who earned the master's wrath was the one who didn't use what he had. By "saving" it, he lost it; the talent was wasted, and he was lost.

On the cross, Jesus couldn't let go and say "Father into thy hands I commend my spirit" until he had first cried, "It is finished."

For my dying friend and her partner and their families, the inherent pain of the loss is exacerbated by the sense of its prematurity -- the fact that she is young (in her 50s) makes it harder to let go and accept. But now that it is clear that her life is approaching its end, there is comfort (to me, anyway) in knowing that she lived her life fully, that she gave what she had, and that her life and her talents were not wasted.

1 comment:

Michael Bischoff said...

Paul,

I'm happy to see that you took the plunge into blogging. I've bookmarked your page and I look forward to soaking up more of your clear thinking and grounded writing.

Michael