Holding on and letting go...

Someone at church said to me this morning, "You look really beat... big old bags under your eyes."  And, yes it is true, I am really worn out.  Being with my dying sister during her hard and ugly death was rough.  Being with her in love given our profound differences and alienation was rougher still.  And trying to live into  her death trusting Christ's grace in the midst of our still unresolved conflict was the hardest of all.  It still is.  Nobody said resting or "abiding" in the Lord was easy - it isn't - and in this context (at least for me) it is exhausting. 

Let's be honest, I can be a stubborn man.  And my sister was a bitter and broken woman.  I not only hated many of the choices she made in her life - and challenged her on them - but then had to learn how to practice acceptance, too because she wasn't going to change. Come hell or high water - and it killed her - she hung on to her unhealthy commitments to the very end.  So part of me is still furious with her for being so pig-headed and selfish.  And part of me is trying to say, "Yes, that is true and it wasn't your fight to win or your life to live so give Beth over fully to God's grace because some things in life just can't be fixed."

That's the thing about grace:  it always beats the alternative of holding on to our fears and grudges and past sins because with grace I can trust that God will do the healing we could never accomplish here.  In grace, I can trust the unforced rhythm of God's love.  And in grace I can experience something of God's peace that passes my understanding.

But I have to surrender to grace and I think that's where my weariness is coming from:  sometimes I let go and rest only to turn around again and try to hold on to my anger and hurt.

Buechner got it mostly right when he observed that the good news of grace "breaks into a world where the news has been so bad for so long that when it is good nobody hears it much except for a few.  And who are the few that hear it?"

They are the ones who labor and are heavy-laden like everybody else but who, unlike everybody else, know that they labor and are heavy-laden. They are the last people you might expect to hear it, themselves the bad jokes and stooges and scarecrows of the world, the tax collectors and whores and misfits. They are the poor people, the broken people, the ones who in terms of the world's wisdom are children and madmen and fools. They have cut themselves shaving. Rich or poor, successes or failures as the world counts it, they are the ones who are willing to believe in miracles because they know it will take a miracle to fill the empty place inside them where grace and peace belong with grace and peace.

That's why I am so grateful that for the next two weeks, I have more vacation time.  So mostly I'm just going to chill - rest and read and pray - do some house work and repairs and some painting, too.  Then we'll bop around the Eastern Townships of Quebec for a few days, walking in small Francophone towns, sipping local wine and listening to local music.  I am ready - ready for a little retreat from the demands of death - ready for a little rest from grief. And ready for the unforced rhythm of grace.

Comments

Philomena Ewing said…
Yes,try and rest RJ. You have had a rough ol' time. That beautiful phrase you ended on " unforced rhythm of grace" rang a bell somewhere so I looked it up.
“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:29-30
Blessings and prayers.
Philomena Ewing said…
Hi RJ, I'm unsure if you will like this one ! :-))I came across it by chance.
You'll have to copy and paste it

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=e9uLzN1elks#!
Blessings
RJ said…
Thanks so much...
Black Pete said…
Rest is God's blessing, RJ. Open your hands to it, man.

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