Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Let Go(d)

I am told that God is in the wind and in order to experience that power all I need to do is let go. It is interesting to me that “Ruach” one of the Old Testament word’s for God can be translated as “wind”.

I enjoyed a wonderful time with the Urmston folk last weekend, in the sunshine and the wind of Great Hucklow. I felt the force of Ruach pulsing through me at times. I felt it in the countryside as it blew through the branches of the great trees and I saw it in the loving attention and affection that people showed to one another, well most of the time.

I am having to let go at the moment. A relationship, that was very dear to my heart, has recently ended. I am of course sad about this, but am coming to terms with things. I do not let go easily, I am not sure that anyone ever really does. I am though getting much better at it. That said like those old school reports use to say, “could do better!” I do let go though, I have had to learn to. Why? Some may ask. Well to make enough space so that I can actually live the life I have been given.

Perhaps the most important thing that I have had to learn to let go of is the need to control. We all desire control, it’s a natural longing. From birth we begin to attempt to control our bodies, as we learn to use them. If anyone’s spent time with young children, you’ll see how they delight in bossing daft adults like myself around. This battle of control is really what the terrible two’s are all about. I’m sure you’ve all heard the joke. ‘What’s the difference between a two year old and terrorist? You can negotiate with a terrorist.’
So yes we need to learn to control to a certain degree, the problems start when we begin to try to control others and our environment. I'm not even sure we should even be trying to control our inner environment either, our natural instincts, because when we do we just en-shadow and eventually en-power these natural desires and drives. This can lead to real problems in the long-term. It was certainly the root cause of much of the loneliness that use to plague my life.

I have not been trying to control my feelings these last couple of weeks. I have wanted to, but I have let them work naturally through me. I have not fled myself, nor have I fled life. I have felt low at times and revisited some old fears, but never once have I attempted to run from myself. I have always felt held through this, by trusted loving friends and by the love that I find in all life...that great mystery I know as God.

Every life is a journey, which moves from one stage to another. One of the great stories expresses this wonderfully, “The Jungle Book”. It was my favourite cartoon when I was a kid. I remember, in the days before video and DVD we had a vinyl recording of the sound track which I used to love singing along to. I think there is something of Baloo in me still.  The Jungle Book tells the story of Mowgli, a boy brought up by wolves in the jungles of India. Mowgli loves life in the jungle, but when word gets out that Shere Khan, a menacing man-eating tiger is moving into the neighbourhood, Mowgli’s animal friends realize that he has to leave the jungle for the nearby village and the safety of fellow humans.

Mowgli gets sidetracked by Kaa, a hungry python, Baloo, a fun-loving bear, King Louie, an orang-utan, and four vultures who look and sound like the Beatles. Eventually Mowgli, Baloo and Bagheera, their panther friend, defeat the man-eating tiger and end up at the edge of the jungle on the outskirts of the village. Mowgli is hesitant to leave all he knows and loves in the jungle. But eventually he is persuaded to move on to the village, especially after spotting a beautiful girl who is fetching water by the river. Isn’t it amazing how the promise of something exciting can help us overcome fear?

This story tackles the subject of letting go wonderfully. Mowgli had a great time in the jungle living with animals. But to realize his full potential, he had to live among humans, even though he found it tough and frightening at times.

As we move through our lives - from infancy to childhood to adolescence, adulthood to old age; from primary school to secondary school to higher education to work and then to retirement; from being single to marriage to having children and bringing them up- we let go. Of toys, friends, schoolmates, ideas, girlfriends, boyfriends, beliefs. As we let go we leave behind what holds us back and embrace what can lead us to growth and freedom. Of course we do not let go of everything, we carry much of what we pick up and learn along the way with us, we need it for the journey. If we mature and grow up we let go of what is no longer needed, if we don’t we carry it around with us, being weighed down by it.

I am a fairly new driver and I’m afraid I’m one who does not have great navigational skills. This means that most of the time I get around by Sat Nav. I used Sat Nav to get to Hucklow last Friday. It was a lovely journey, travelling through the quiet roads – most folks were watching the Royal Wedding and all that followed – my Sat Nav got me almost there without any bother. I say almost! As I was arriving at Great Hucklow I misread the directions and missed my turning. So I took the next one, which was a mistake. I ended up going up the wrong path, a broken track not suitable for cars. I thought I was going to break my car. I stayed calm, drove very slowly and came out of the other side unscathed arriving safely at my destination. I sat in the car for a few minutes and quietly prayed to myself. Afterwards I told folk what happened and was able to let go of my silly mistake. I think I may need to update my road maps though, or at least my road map reading sense.

M. Scott Peck in his classic, “The Road Less Travelled.”, talks about how people have to “update their maps.” He believed one’s world view was like a map. When we are young, we have a map of the world. It’s probably not a very accurate one, because we don’t have much experience of life. But as we grow older, have more experiences, learn more things and meet more people, that map has to be upgraded. Has to be updated. It must change to reflect the realities of the world. When we refuse to update our maps, to let go of beliefs, attitudes or ideas that don’t conform to reality, we stagnate, we get left behind, we do not grow up.

I agree with Peck, which leads me to ask the question how do we update our maps and move on? Well I have discovered three keys awareness, understanding and acceptance. These three need to be firmly in place, before we can begin to let go and move forward. We need to be aware of what is holding us back, what is blocking our potential. We need to understand how this is happening and how we are contributing to our own problems. Eventually we discover that this part of our lives no longer serves any purpose, we accept that it is time to face up to the fear of change and move on. Like Mowgli we step out of the jungle out of the wilderness and back onto the right path.

But how do we discover the three keys? There are of course many ways, what works best for me is prayer. Prayer helps me to bring about the awareness, understanding and acceptance that I need to let go and move on. I have become one of life's great prayers. Not bad for someone who use to think the whole thing was just a load of superstitious nonsense. That is one part of my map that I've upgraded, I've let go of the paralysing pure “rational” cynicism that once held me back and weighed me down. That said I don't expect the hand of God to come down and change everything for me. I'm not that self-centred. Prayer for me is about developing awareness and connectedness. Through prayer I connect to that which is greater than me and find the courage to do what is necessary to let go of what is holding me back and move on.

You might ask what I am praying to; well I can't really describe it. I have heard it called the "Great Mystery" and that seems to make some sense. That said I don't think I need to be praying to anyone or anything, in order to connect to that which is within ever fibre of my being and yet beyond all material existence. I've just found that through the practice of prayer I have connected more and more to the mystery of the universe. As a result I've begun to have faith in life itself and begun to trust myself. This has allowed me to keep moving on and letting go of that which serves no purpose.  Prayer gives me the courage to throw myself into the wind and risk what happens. It allows me to throw caution to the wind, something I can’t control by the way. Prayer also allows me to set my sails accordingly, something I do have control of or at least I do if I have awareness. It is a journey though and I've got a long way to go.

Letting go is about our daily lives. Every single one of us has something that is holding us back. It might be a false idea or attitude about life, it might be an addiction, it might be someone, or something.  I have discovered that it is only through self awareness and awareness of that that is greater than self that can give me the answers I seek.

“...I can feel it in the wind, I can feel it in the rain, I can feel it in the face of the storm..."

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