This past Sunday I spent most of (mostly) silent worship praying over a pair of fundamental questions: Why is it so often true that death allows our species to let go of old grudges and hurts? And why can’t we, knowing we’re going to die, learn to let go beforehand?
More about the first question: We’ve all heard the same stories, right? Of estranged family members or former friends who, knowing that someone from their past they’d bitterly quarreled with is dying, show up after years of silence—and all is forgiven. We all know not to speak ill of the dead. We all have attended funerals and memorials and heard the glowing—and, yes, true—tributes to the deceased; these dearly departed’s less than admirable traits aren’t mentioned.
My discernment on Sunday was certainly helped by an early-on speaker referencing Isaac Penington’s wisdom:
Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know or to be any thing, and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee, and be in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that, and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is his portion.
~ Isaac Penington, 1616-1679
So I sank down.
Today, working on this post, I stumbled upon another Penington quote (that will definitely be taped on my computer Hall of Fame) that beautifully points the way towards letting go:
Our life is love, and peace, and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.
* Although it is impossible for me to think or say these three little words without seeing my four-year-old granddaughter brilliantly lip-sinc to the Frozen song, I am trying to say something different here. I think.