My reflections this Lenten season have been greatly inspired by Joyce Rupp, author of Walk in a Relaxed Manner: Life Lessons from the Camino. Her experiences on the Camino pilgrimage resonate deeply with my life journey. In fact, her insights have helped me understand more clearly events and situations in my life.
In one chapter she describes her struggles as she learned the lesson of letting go of her comfort zones and her expectations. She relates that she was reluctant to leave behind the comfort of her personal space, even though she was excited about the coming adventures. As she began the 37-day, 500 mile pilgrimage, she found she needed to deal with the daily challenges of not being near a convenience store, of not having public restrooms or even clean toilets along the way, of being away from a computer keyboard for hours at a time, of the Spanish concept of time, of the crowded sleeping quarters in the hostels, of strange food, and the even stranger odors of tired, unwashed pilgrims.
“Many of my challenges to let go involved being willing to enter into another society and accept its differences,” she writes. “I realized the necessity of letting go as the only thing to do. Holding on too tightly to anyone or anything only deprives oneself of growth. Clinging too tightly to something squeezes the life out of it. … I noticed that the more I deliberately let go, the more peace of mind and heart I acquired.”
For me, coming from the American culture into the Asian Filipino culture some 50 years ago, was truly a continuing series of having to let go. I discovered that my American expectations of a comfortable life were far different than the Filipino concept of a comfortable life. As did Joyce, I also had to learn to let go of my expectations and release my tight hold on things that I felt should be done my way.
It took many years, much prayer, and many talks with Sis. Carmeli Catan, my spiritual advisor and soulmate, before I was able to fully accept that letting go and letting God be God was the right thing to do. Her advice to me was always, “Go with the flow, Nancy. Listen, learn and accept that God’s ways are not your ways. Be docile to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. And enjoy your journey.” As I began to accept more willingly the multitude of changes in my life, my outlook on life became brighter, more colorful, exciting and fruitful.
Joyce Rupp says it this way: “I learned that no matter how tightly I grasp something I cannot keep it as it is or make it last forever. Holding on with a ferocious grip does not change a situation to match my wants and desires. … My journey taught me not to grasp what’s dear to me but to gratefully hold all I value with open hands. Life goes much better that way.”
Every day is now a new adventure as I look forward to what God has in store for me as I let go and let Him be in control of my journey. I am content and at peace. And, yes, life goes much better that way!