Meditation Monday- Letting Go

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

Christmas is over. This weekend we took down our decorations, dismantled our tree and turned off the Christmas lights. Hardest for me was packing away my Advent/Christmas wreaths. I have really enjoyed my new Celtic Advent wreath with its six candles plus one in the centre for Christmas Day, and it is hard to let go. However as Margaret Self reminds me in her book Sacred Spaces: Stations on the Celtic Way, which I am currently reading, all cycles of our lives come to an end and the cycles of the liturgical calendar are but a reflection of that.

Margaret Silf talks about mountaintop experiences and valleys, concepts that we are all familiar with when we think about our life journey.  She points out that mountaintop experiences expose us to a burst of creative energy capable of fueling the next stage of our journey. However we cannot live on the mountaintops. “They demand of us that we move on that we walk back down to the valleys of our daily lives, there to live in the power and live out the vision of what we have seen and what we known on the summit”

I feel Epiphany is a little like that. We are coming down from the mountaintop experiences of Christmas and now it is time to live out what we experienced. For some of us it is time to let go and allow new things to bud and grow in our lives.

What really caught my attention this weekend was her likening the cycle to the nature of trees.

Every cycle of our lives has its unique and particular springtime, bringing that initial burst of energy, so too each cycle has its autumn, its fall, its time of coming down from the heights.

This cycle reflects the nature of trees, and where they direct their energy. In spring all their life-force seems to flow into the rising sap, the buds and the fresh leaves, the supple young branches, the new growth. And then in winter the direction of that energy seems to turn, down to the roots, so that the tree might survive and deepen its hold on life. (Sacred Spaces: Stations on the Celtic Way 75)

As she says, it is easy to notice the above-ground part of the cycle when everything seems to be growing and reaching out. Buds, new tree shoots followed by flowers and fruit. This is the spring and summer of the cycle, the time when life seems good and everything above ground is flourishing.

However there comes a point in the cycle when we move into autumn and then winter. Our life energy seems to change direction. As we move into the colder seasons of the year, flowers fade, leaves begin to fall and the tree’s energy now goes into developing roots that go deep and grow strong. If we try to hold onto the leaves and the flowers, the tree suffers, and the roots become stunted and may eventually die.

So it is with the cycles of our lives. There comes a point when we need to come down from the mountain top in order to let the power of these experiences take deeper root. Letting go is about “recognizing  what at any particular stage in our becoming is essential to our inner lives, and being prepared, if necessary, to let everything else be subordinated to the overriding choice for what is growing us into who we really are.” (77)

What she suggests is that we all need to strive to make decisions that encourage our roots to grow deeper. Our goal should be to develop the inner core of our being so that it draws us closer to God, to each other and to all of creation. It is easier for us to focus on the upward growth and the fruit, but this really is really only an outward sign or an inward development. A good question to ask ourselves in every decision we make is: “Which course of action is more likely to lead to a deepening of our true self and a closer bonding with the truest self of every other creature and of all creation?”

Every time we choose well and grow our roots deeper, our ability to discern the next steps to enable us to grow into the people God wants us to become will grow a little bit sharper and more clearly defined.

Gradually the whole tree of our own life and of the life of all creation will be strengthened and enriched, and next year’s leaves and next year’s fruit will be all the more radiant and nutritious. Far from losing the leaves we have surrendered, we will find we have gained a wholeness and a deep-down health of spirits and a freedom that opens the channels of our hearts to the “sap” of Life itself, holding us in being. (Sacred Spaces: Stations on the Celtic Way 77)

Fortunately the apparent ending of every creative cycle also provides a gateway through which the inpouring of creative energy will nourish the next cycle. The story of God provides a cycle of life death and resurrection. We know that we cannot hang onto Christmas, just as we will not be able to hold onto Lent or easter in the coming months. These seasons nourish us and provide the inner growth that makes us productive.

Epiphany is a good time to think about this cycle. It’s a good time to work through a discernment process and be honest about the choosing you are making. Which season are you at in the cycle of your life? Are you in a season of spring, or autumn? Are there things you need to let go of that will enable your roots to grow deeper? Are you starting to send out buds in a new project or relationship?

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