Monday, June 23, 2014

Letting Go (Monday Morning in the Desert)

It could be said that much of Christianity has been reduced to theology by "bumper sticker", consisting of sayings which can fit onto a sticker placed on the bumper of a car.  Or, using a more recent mode of communication, I could call it "theology according to Twitter", where the sayings are limited to 140 characters. Many sayings are of dubious quality, such as the notorious "God helps those who help themselves", the alleged quotation from the Bible which is nowhere to be found in Scripture.

One saying that I hear periodically goes like this: "Let go, and let God".  Again, like many of these sayings,it could be used at inappropriate times or for inappropriate reasons.  However, unlike "God helps those who help themselves", a saying with little or no redeeming qualities, there may be a legitimate use of "Let go, and let God". 

"Let go, and let God" can perhaps be used to describe the message in an anonymous letter dating from fourteenth-century Germany, which is sometimes called "The Silent Outcry".  It is believed to be a letter from a spiritual director, and the message of the letter is that it is only by letting go of God that God can be found.

"Learn how to let go of God through God, the hidden God through the naked God.  Be willing to lose a penny in order to find a guilder.  Get rid of the water, so that you can make wine..... [I]f you want to eat of the honey, you should not be put off by the bee's sting.  If you want to catch fish, learn to get wet; if you want to see Jesus on the shore (John 21:4), learn to sink down into the sea first."  (Matthew 14:30)


Listen.  Look.  Suffer and be still.  Release yourself into the light.  See with intellect.  Learn with discretion.  Suffer with joy.  Rejoice with longing.  Have desire with forbearance.  Complain to no one.  My child, be patient and release yourself, because no one can dig God out from the ground of your heart.

O deep treasure, how will you be dug up? O high perfection, who may attain you?  O flowing fountain, who can exhaust you? O burning Brilliance; outbursting Power; simple Return; naked hiddenness; hidden Security; secure Confidence; simple silent One in all things; manifold Good in a single silence; You silent Outcry, no one can find you who does not know how to let you go.

Release yourself, my child, and thank God that he has given you such a way of life."

(From p. 141 of "The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism", edited by Bernard McGinn). 

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