Let go of the old to begin the new

By Vinal Van Benthem | For The Compass | May 25, 2022

Fr. Ron Rolheiser, in his book, “The Holy Longing,” talks about the importance of letting go of something we love so that it can bless us. He uses the image of the Ascension to illustrate his point. It’s as if the child about to be born were to grab onto its mother’s body. If the child refused to leave the womb it would die. In letting go, however, the child is freed to experience life in a new way. It seems simple, but sometimes …

Joe is a veteran. He served honorably in Vietnam and came home with a medal for his bravery under fire. Recently, he was invited to go on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., with other Vietnam vets. Plans were all set until he tested positive on his pre-flight COVID test. It looked like all his hopes and dreams, all his preparations and expectations, were going up in smoke. Joe had to release his dream.

But Joe’s travel companions were not quite so ready to let the opportunity pass. They encouraged Joe to try again. And this time, Joe passed his COVID test. He was going to be able to go on an Honor Flight after all, and the welcome-home party his friends and family had previously canceled was back on.

In addition, it turned out that, this time, even more of Joe’s old buddies would be making the trip with him. In letting go of the old, Joe was even more blessed by the new. He had known great disappointment, but the disappointment turned into even greater excitement when he got the news that he would have another chance. And as he released his initial disappointment, he found himself blessed by an even more exciting opportunity.

“Release and bless.” A much-anticipated opportunity slips through our fingers; a spouse dies; a child marries; a close friend moves away. Endings and beginnings. We cannot begin the new until we have let the old go so that it can bless us. Joe did what he needed to do. What do we need to let go of? How can it bless us?

Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.

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