So much of life involves letting go. This seems strange, our culture insists that our gains - not our losses - define us and that power and control are to be valued above all else.
I don't believe it anymore. I am not sure that I ever did believe it.
I have manged to keep very little from this world. I have few possessions. Only books really. Not health. Not approval or status or money. Not even the certainly of family ties. I have savored each of these for a time but it hasn't been secure. Not in the ways that last. Every seemingly solid gift I've trusted has broken loose like floating ice when I've placed my full weight on it.
Apparently, I'm a rather slow learner.
I watched Roberto Beningni's 1997 comedy-drama Life is Beautiful. This is a film for those who are crazy in love, utterly hopeful, and for those who nearly untouched by illness or grief. Or at least the first half of the film.
The second half is more. I wept for the beautiful and tragic way that Guido Orefice let go. Bicycles, bookstores. Ringing bells, cobblestone streets. A world without gold stars or Gestapo or gas chambers. Of the simple, uncomplicated life of man and wife and child.
He let go.
He let go of language and love-making.
He let go of music and meat.
He let go of any hope beyond this present breath.
And in the letting go, Guido imbued each moment with the beautiful determination to keep on loving life.
No matter what.
I would love to be that brave!
I want to nurture hope. I want to nurture hope like a hothouse flower and make play-dates with pain and suffering.
I want to believe that love can last and friendship remain.
I want to believer that good will will sin and evil will be buried under its own monstrous, ugly weight.
But for this I must let go.
I must let go of my own expectations of comfort and safe.
I must let go of the sense that I am entitled to whatever version of "the good life" is currently in vogue (or that others are posting on Facebook or Instagram).
I must let go of the hope that I will ever feel completely at home anywhere but in God's arms.
Life is beautiful .. but not when I clutch at it, terrified of losing it.
Only when I learn to let go.
Take, my soul, thy full salvation;
Rise o'er sin and fear and care;
Joy to find in every station,
Something still to do or bear.
That what Spirit dwells within thee,
What a Father's smile is thine,
What a Savior died to win thee,
Child of heaven, shouldst thou repine?
"Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken"
by Henry Francis Lyte, 1793-1847
For whoever would safe his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 16: 25 ESV