“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Yes, I know. You read the word; heard the word “surrender” and you think, not me, I’m not giving up. I won’t accept defeat.
I’ve been thinking about this word a lot lately having just sold my cabin in the Appalachian Mountains that I’ve had for 30 years and recovering from a hip replacement – letting the old hip go and getting a knee replacement next month. Lots of letting go.
But even earlier I remember the Christian hymn being sung in the old wooden Baptist church we attended on Sand Mountain, Alabama – the one I was baptized in at nine.
The old folks would sing:
“…I surrender all,
I surrender all.
All to thee, my blessed Savior,
I surrender all…”
I didn’t really know what they meant. I didn’t have a whole lot to surrender, give up, or give into – a Daisy BB gun shooting sparrows off the wire and the Johnny Cash album I got the same year for Christmas.
However, at the tender young age of 68, I find myself more than ever exploring this whole surrendering process, and I have more than a few clients trying to find ways to circumvent surrendering to what is in their lives.
I want to be clear; I’m not talking about surrendering to religion or God or Jesus or a Guru. I’m talking about letting go. Grieving what was, what will never be again, and feeling freer than ever to proceed into the present. I don’t know anything much, but I do know the word religion means “to bind.” So many of us are bound to our past, and Lord knows there’s days I wish I had my cabin back, my energy of my 30s and 40s, and a lover or two long gone and the money I casually and foolishly let fly.
Most mornings now I wake up, have my morning coffee meditation, and begin again to surrender to the way things are. I take a few deep breaths, gently relaxing and proceeding to keep learning and feeling trust that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I get up, work on a book that few people will probably read, counsel a few folks though fewer and fewer, check my mail, walk my dogs, and at night dream dreams of people, projects, and possibilities of days gone by.
One of my dear clients in her 60s said in session yesterday, “But I want back the fire in my belly that I used to have for my work. I want it to blaze again.”
I could only empathize, but said, “that 40-year old fire may be gone but I see much light in you!”
“I thought my fire was out,
I stirred the ashes
I burnt my fingers.” ~ Antonio Machado