On this day, two short weeks before Christmas, many of us will be feeling stressed out and tired, as we rush around, trying to get everything "just right" for the season. But I'm going to try something else, just for once, and just let go.
It is very easy to spend our lives chasing after the next thing that needs doing, the next goal that presents itself to us, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As biological animals, we move forwards through time, and it is natural for us to look to the future. But I am afraid that this is often at the expense of appreciating what we have in the present. This is certainly true in my case. I always have a to-do list on the go, and have to consciously include a weekly half-day Sabbath on it, so that I can let go, and spend some time just being. If I miss that half-day, I am noticeably tenser, and more fratchety.
This is why I adore the words of the poem Camas Lilies by Unitarian Universalist minister Lynn Ungar, which I came across the other day: "What of your rushed and useful life? Imagine setting it all down - papers, plans, appointments, everything - leaving only a note: 'Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I'm through with blooming.'"
"Gone to the fields to be lovely. Be back when I'm through with blooming." Such a fabulous reminder that actually there are other things than the current task, which are just as important, if our lives are to be rich and meaningful, rather than rushed and pressured.
I am slowly coming to recognise that many of the pressures in our lives (certainly many of the pressures in my life) are self-inflicted. It is my distracted self who chases after material possessions, who needs to be in control, who perpetually worries about the next thing, who strives after perfection, and who finds it hard to let go of old regrets and grievances. I'm doing it all to myself.
I'm beginning to realise that the starting point for breaking out of all this pressure, for getting away from all this self-inflicted stress, is Just Letting Go. Relinquishing control, stepping out of the centre, sitting still, and letting nothing happen. It involves trust - trust that things will work out without my help, trust that God has got my back.
And it's a slow process. I'm sitting for half-an-hour every morning, trying (or not trying) to just be, and trusting that eventually I'll get something out of it. Trying to let go of the need to succeed. Just breathing, and listening to the silence.