One of the things I did on vacation recently was re-read a favorite short story—twice. I finished reading it once, and immediately felt the need to read it again. On the second time through, part of what kept catching my attention was the fact that nothing was extraneous to the developing story line. One of the things that makes short stories harder to write than longer ones—and poetry more difficult to write than stories—is the need to take out everything that isn’t critical to moving forward the plot or idea of the piece.
Part of what I found myself doing in quieter moments on vacation was similar, in a sense. I was sifting through the crowd of ideas and thoughts and experiences and worries and such that have been running through my mind over the past several months of transition. I was working, consciously, to let go of what was extraneous, so that I could focus on my relationship with God and reconnect with the spiritual center of my life.
One of the exercises I did for myself was to make a list of all the ways I saw myself, all the roles I’ve been playing. Then I spent time in prayer, reflecting on each of them, and what held the most—or least—meaning, or need, or hope, or energy, at this point in my life. As the wind whipped through the palm trees, I listened to the rustling sound, wrote a poem about the rustling, returned to an internal stillness. Made lunch. Repeated the process. Re-read the short story. Reflected some more. Released into God’s hands yet more of the issues and items that felt extraneous to my life in this season.
Eventually the word that became central was “let.” Let go. Let be. That sense of allowing things to unfold felt incredibly important—the way that a blog post or poem will unfold when I let go of my need to control it and see what the Spirit, speaking through me, might have to say.
When did you last take time to reflect on what’s essential in your life? When have you “let go” and waited, trusting, for what might unfold? Is this Easter season perhaps a good time to reflect on the roles you live, the ways you spend your time, and release what is extraneous at this stage in your journey?