The early Christian desert fathers and desert
mothers taught that the “way” of Jesus is a path of subtraction more
than addition. They strove mightily to become loving, forgiving, kind
and compassionate. But they also dropped those things that brought them
down or served as a distraction from their surrender to God. They knew
how to let go.
Thomas a Kempis, in the spiritual classic The Imitation of Christ (Bridge-Logos Publishers; 1999; available from www.amazon.com) from the 15th century, also advocated making a regular practice of letting go. “To sum up, dear friend of Mine, unclench your fists, and let everything fly out of your hands. Clean yourself up nicely and stay faithful to your Creator,” the monk wrote.
But how does this work out practically? Usually not without a great deal of intention, effort and patience with yourself.
Letting go of fixed ideas about the way things are or how people are supposed to behave is one step, and it’s not easy. Take some cherished idea of yours and try to change it: You will see that the resistance is very strong. The mind likes the security that comes with long-held ideas.
The rest of this article is only available to subscribers.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers