Those famous words uttered by the angel to Lot just before the destruction of Sodom came full circle to me ...
It’s funny how God works. My recent 5-day silent retreat was scheduled at the absolute worst possible time – right in the middle of closing on a new house and selling my home. After struggling with whether I should reschedule, I discerned I was being called to go on retreat, even though it seemed totally crazy and irresponsible to spend this amount of time “doing nothing” when I had boxes to pack and a house to prepare for the market. But what I found was that although this seemed to me like a disruption and the last thing I should be doing at this busy time, it turned out to be not only exactly what I needed, but the perfect time for it.
You see, for me, change is difficult and somewhat undesirable, actually. I get comfortable in how things are, the predictability – and control – I have in the known. But life is not comfortable, predictable, or controllable, try though we might to make it that way. Rather, life is full of change and moving on – from one grade to the next, one school to the next, one job to the next. But beyond these more known and predictable changes in life, there are so many others – changes in health, changes in friends, the loss of loved ones, disappointments, unfulfilled plans, hopes and dreams.
My home of 40 years that I am currently selling symbolizes all that – the hopes, plans and dreams my husband and I had when we moved here a year after we were married. Some happened, some did not. Some aspects of our life were filled with disappointment, while others exceeded our wildest dreams. As I was packing and found myself hanging onto everything for dear life, I wondered what had gotten into me. I thought I lived a pretty simple life, not all that attached to things. Yet here I was struggling to let go of boxes of cards and letters I've received that were just gathering dust in the basement, CD’s that provided the soundtrack to the various stages of my life that I hadn’t listened to in years, and snorkeling gear that was purchased for a cruise taken 30 years ago and not used since.
After walking for miles around the retreat woods and sitting silently watching the deer and ducks carry on their lives, I was finally able to hear God’s quiet voice inviting me to let go. Indeed, life is filled with letting go. Letting go of childhood, teen years, young adulthood and now middle age, as I step into the later years of my life. Letting go of relationships that happened normally through changes in interest, geography or pursuits, as well as those more painful losses due to death or breakup. Letting go of plans that didn’t happen, hopes that were dashed and dreams that were never realized. Our lives are full of them because life never goes exactly according to our plan.
I have entered a season of letting go. While foreign and unsettling to me, I also feel the peace it offers if I am able to embrace it. As often happens to me on retreat, the Lord speaks to me through music. This year, King & Country’s Burn the Ships was the song God used to communicate my next chapter. I share with you a few of the lyrics that touched my heart: “Say a prayer, … dry your tears and wave goodbye. Step into a new day. We can rise up from the dust and walk away. We can dance upon the heartache. So light a match, leave the past, burn the ships and don’t look back.” I leave you with these lyrics and a quote my spiritual director recently shared with me, “Don’t look back, we’re not going that way.”
Indeed. I’ll meet you in the future!