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Learning to Let Go

Letting go. These two simple words describe something that is almost always easier said than done. Author Francis Weller writes, “Letting go is not a passive state of acceptance but a recognition of the brevity of all things.” Throughout our lives we must let go of what is because change is our norm, loss is our norm, and the range of loss we can experience in a lifetime is vast.

Loved ones and friends die, people move away, relationships end. We lose our physical mobility, mental acuity, eyesight, and hearing. We let go of unrealized dreams or the way we thought things would be. No one escapes the grief and loss that come with living and letting go. It is a universal experience.

Yet, how we experience it is completely unique to each of us. Also unique to us are the choices we make to navigate it. Some of us run from it, some of us deny it even exists. We want to embrace it honestly and openly, but it is so difficult.

With all the letting go that is required of us one would think the sorrow would be overwhelming. Sometimes it is. Sometimes we just need to let the pain move through us. In the midst of the loss, when we are able to see the horizon beyond it, there are shards of light, joy, and laughter.

Weller also states, “Sorrow is a sustained note in the song of being alive. To be human is to know loss in its many forms. This should not be a depressing truth. Acknowledging this reality enables us to find our way into the grace that lies hidden in sorrow. We are most alive at the threshold between loss and revelation; every loss ultimately opens the way for a new encounter.”

It is always harder to see grace in pain. We know that when we give sorrow the time and space it needs, the grace will surface. Sometimes we need to be gently reminded that though the pain is deep, resurrection will come, the rock will be moved away. Slowly perhaps, but it will move.

The phrase that really captures my imagination is, “We are most alive at the threshold between loss and revelation . . .” The threshold between loss and revelation is a thin place. I wonder if we are most alive in this space because in these moments of our lives, we are feeling it all. A place where we feel the heaviness of sorrow and deep gratitude for the gift of what was. A place where we can feel completely alone and at the same time know and lean on the love and support of our family and friends. A place where sadness and joy somehow live in the same moment.

Sorrow is a sustained note in the song of being alive, it is a note that we all sing. Joy, love, and laughter help to create the harmony that connects all the notes of our lives into our personal and communal symphonies. Beautiful music.

About the Author: Associate Katie Anders is a spiritual care minister for the Sisters of Charity, BVM in Dubuque, Iowa. She meets with sisters for mindfulness meditation, Omega discussion groups (based on the work of Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF), various book groups, and other activities.

This story was featured in:

SUMMER 2022: Freed by Love: Acting for Justice

In this issue of Salt, we share how the BVMs continue to fight for causes at the Heart of BVM, such as access to affordable healthcare, protecting whistleblowers, leaving behind a healthy planet, and fighting for justice with the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM).

If you would like to receive Salt, contact the Office of Development for a complimentary subscription at or 563-585-2864.


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