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Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential

By Mary Regina Morrell

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us... Joseph Campbell

Did you ever pass a car fire on the highway and wonder how it started?

I have, many times, and today I got the explanation—when it happened to my husband.

While I was cooking dinner I got a phone call. I could tell by the tone of my husband’s voice that whatever had happened was going to require my going and picking him up somewhere. I had just hoped it wouldn’t be on some god-forsaken backwoods road in a part of New Jersey I didn’t know.

As it turned it out, he was only two miles down the road in a gas station.

He had driven all the way home from the shore on the parkway and had made it to Route 9 when he and my son heard a pop and started to smell smoke.

They pulled into a gas station, next to the fuel pump, because they also needed gas.

My husband got out of the van and opened the hood to discover the engine was on fire. Bad enough in itself, but very bad when you’re parked next to a fuel pump!

Fortunately, for him and the terrified gas station attendant, he had a fire extinguisher in the van and was able to put out the fire and avert a tragedy.

Now this van is 18 years old, pushing 200,000 miles, looks like it has been through a war and sports silver electrical tape bandages on its scrapes and dings. Add to that a fire.

“I think it’s time to get a new van,” I suggested to my husband.

I thought I caught the hint of a nod, but his eyes were glazed over.

When I came home from work the next day I expected we might start looking for a replacement. Instead, I saw the familiar reflection of silver tape in the sun as I pulled around the corner.

“It’s fixed,” he said proudly when I walked in the door.

I just sighed. Sometimes it’s hard to accept when it’s time to let go.
Sometimes what is has such a powerful hold on us that we fail to see the possibilities of what might be.

We tend to think of letting go in terms of loss, and sometimes it is, but just as often it is a gain, if we can acknowledge that thing, that relationship, that circumstance as having filled its potential in our lives; for better or for worse it has had an impact on who or where we are at this moment in time. But this moment has already past away, and those things should not define us or our future.

New life is ours, says the Lord. And it happens by letting go of the old, by trusting in our God who spoke to the exiles in Babylon through the prophet Jeremiah: For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to give you a future and a hope.

God instructed the Israelites to live fully during the time of their exile in the land where they found themselves, to build houses, plant gardens, marry and have children. But God also told them to be ready to let go, to move on to the new future God had planned for them.

There is a teaching in the ancient Chinese philosophical text Tao Te Ching which states, “To hold, you must first open your hand.”

It is simple wisdom with divine potential.


RENEW International  NJ, US
Mary Regina Morrell - Associate Editor, 908 769-5400



letting go, wisdom, potential

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