O Lord, it is a ceaseless dying,
if one wants to gain You.
O Lord, it is a ceaseless letting go,
if one wants to seize You.
O Lord, it is like death to the senses,
if one wants to obtain You.
Yet it is the rejoicing sound of a thousand violins,
when You become my own.
Bernard of Clairvaux, as quoted in Adventure of Faith
Have you ever seen a man drowning? How he fights the current to keep his head above the water, gasping for his next breath. How he struggles to hold on to his overturned large boat believing that in doing so it will prevent him from going under. And yet, how each struggle only seems to pull him deeper into the water. At that moment, anyone watching this man fight for his survival would immediately ask him to let go of the boat so he can be rescued. Holding on to an overturned boat can be quite dangerous because the powerful force of suction can lead the boat to sink rapidly.
We are not very different from that drowning man. Often, we find ourselves drowning under the weight of the situations that life brings us. We are pulled into the current of sadness and suffering and we find it difficult to swim back to the surface. We then begin to question, “Why me?” Why is the Lord putting me through so much pain and hardship? Why has he abandoned me at the time when we need him the most?
We all face sorrow in our lives – it is inevitable. Just as we cannot expect every single day to be a sunny day, we cannot expect to always be happy in this life. Our actions have already put in motion the consequences that we will have to face – whether good or bad. This is the simple reason we have to go through difficult times, in the same manner that we go through the happier times.
We may have experienced sickness, the loss of a loved one, or failure at some point in our lives. And it becomes very easy for us to feel overwhelmed. The sadness creeps into our life and we find it hard to move forward. We latch on to the pain and suffering and we find ourselves in despair, unable to function. We start to wonder if there will ever be light at the end of the dark tunnel in which we seem lost.
In the midst of all the pain and suffering, we tend to turn to the Lord. We ask him to help us. We pray for strength and wisdom so that we may overcome the difficulties we are faced with. And his answer is simple – “let go”. He asks us to stop clinging on to the things that bring us pain and suffering. He urges us to turn away from the negativity we may feel after going through a tough ordeal. He becomes like that lifeguard asking the drowning man to let go of his overturned boat so that he can pull him to safety. At that moment, the drowning man needs to trust the lifeguard by releasing his grip on the boat that prevents him from floating to the surface of the water, even if his instinct is to hold on to the most tangible thing around him. It is only when he leaves his overturned boat that the man can be saved by the lifeguard. In the same manner, it is only when we learn to let go of all that is pulling us down, can the Lord come and pull us up.