Hold On by Letting Go…
More on the mysterious art of Surrender by Marcia Singer, MSW
Ironically, one of the surest ways to hold on to what’s most meaningful and necessary in life is to let go — stop trying to hold on so tight. Especially where real or anticipated losses are causing us anguish, deep surrender into Life can transform the negative experience.
Our local daily, The Press Democrat, ran a feature by Pete Golis [Wake-Up Moment, Sunday Forum, June 26] interviewing people in our community who had lost everything in a firestorm. Golis reported the grief, rage, confusion, sense of overwhelming loss of loved ones’ lives, property and valuables, wild spaces and basic sense of security that firestorms have stolen. The piece moved me deeply, while reminding me of teachings from both the late Richard “Ram Dass” Alpert and from Deepak Chopra: Both speak of a possible ‘wisdom‘ of insecurity or uncertainty about our lives, directing us to the spiritual dimensions we can uncover as we compassionately acknowledge our losses and tend to healing. We discover ways to lessen the tragedies, PTSD, and perhaps prevent reoccurrence or persistence of our anxiety.
Certainly. the tasks of rebuilding, healing, restoring require fully witnessing the losses with our deepest empathy and kindness; That’s the first step. But another vital step in recovering from grief, anger, depression is knowing how and where to look to find gifts within our losses. For instance, the preciousness of each day of life; gratitude for familial and community support, care, help — plus opportunities to learn how to receive with grace; appreciation for what we do have, not taking things for granted; to become more generous; to be more patient, kind, forgiving towards — and present with — those we love. Ironically, in the face of great loss, we are potentially poised to embrace Life more abundantly, with even greater faith in The Scheme O’ Things. By surrendering to a greater power, Grace is met.
For me, this lesson began to take root while living in the San Diego area decades back, about gifts in surrendering to loss, reframing, redefining the experience. A fire razed the home and belongings of a local rabbi and his wife that I knew. The community rallied. I was amazed that the couple appeared cheerful, their faith strong, their gratitude in full view of the support. Not long after, they surprised everyone by embarking on career changes, revealing less conventional passions and interests not shared before. Fascinated, I watched as they shed skins, coming more nakedly into the light to serve community in new ways: renewed, restored, reborn. But a much bigger wake-up call to this surrendered possibility came for me on October 9th, 2017, 1:20 a.m. I was literally awakened by a loud voice on my answer machine to evacuate immediately. Tubbs’ firestorms were headed my way. Stunned, I registered what was happening. What on earth should I grab to take, where could I go? What did this mean?
A moment of intense alertness and transcendence washed over me. In a flash, first I sensed the impossible horror of losing everything I own, my home, and having nothing to come back to — my life? But in the next breath, I felt wholly free –of everything. Unfettered. Simply free. That transcendent moment was a Gift and I knew it, even as imminent danger had me scrambling to exit my house. Somehow, I knew I would be alright. No matter what. Hindsight would prove that I was able (for a moment) to embrace the inherent insecurity of being alive and being human that my Buddhist mentors so often speak of. And the wisdom of acceptance and deep surrender that Ram Dass and Chopra speak so eloquently about. And the deep transformation, kindness and compassion that great loss can drive. (Check out Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Kindness.”)
So. As I write this, we face a week of high temps, another heat wave, unhealthy air. Making me more alert to firey season. May I practice what I preach. Blessings to us each, and all. Shining deLight, Marcia