By Zihna Edwards
In my kitchen, there lives a coffee cup that a friend gave me in college. Theres a crack running the side from one move or another, and it is unsuitable for drinking. But drink I do: gulps of great memories, sips of shared sorrows, and the aroma of a rich-roasted friendship. I think that it will always have a home with me.
There is a sweater in my closet thats two sizes too big. It was my mothers favorite, and shes been home ten years. When I take it out for the Goodwill box, I see it on her. I imagine her eyes searching it out, her hands holding it, her feeling its knit around her neck. I know that if I ever need her hug, wearing that sweater will be the closest I get. And it goes right back on its shelf.
Some things I wont let go. And thats okay should can be a violent word, and I am just gracious enough to let myself keep the things I no longer have via some things I do, without too much ridicule. But other things approach the ridiculous.
I have an unopened painting kit that I also keep. A never-used easel, two canvas boards, a lot of dried-out paint. Why does it keep living here with me? Because its not an unused paint kit; its an unused dream. In my files there are scribbles on scraps that I will never read again, thrown into unmarked folders. Its years past too much to organize Id love to throw them away. But theres such good stuff in there! Bible study ideas, amazing illustrations, inspirational quotes, you name it. Will God give me the fresh idea I need when the time comes? Absolutely! But its hard letting go: thats not just paper. It might just hold The Key.
Not only old stuff lives here, but old ideas. Some fine people, in Gods name, once made me believe I am second because Im a woman. Talk about ridiculous and how unlike God! But that still lurks around me, and I stay mad at the church and conflicted about serving. Old hurts, internalized and relived. Old assumptions, never checked against the truth. Old patterns of being, some downright destructive.
What about these? Why dont I let go? Because, in some way, they serve me as yours do for you. They protect me from vulnerability, or failure, or responsibility, or hurt. To let them go can be a very hard thing. Think about it.
Lent is a time of letting go. With Jesus we turn toward Jerusalem, and open ourselves to the miraculous things God wants yet to do with our lives. Its a time of voluntary simplicity, making space. People who equate Lenten sacrifice with a New Years resolution are missing the richness of the possibility. We have before us a preparation for Life and an invitation to die to the things that keep us dead in a little further way. We could make this out to be about chocolate. Or we could ask God what things are getting in our way.
Some things are okay not to let go of. But others that is not who we are anymore, or what we most need. That too is okay. God forbid that we should ever stop growing! But that requires periodic shedding/rebuilding, as any snake or snail will be glad to show you. May this season of Lent be that for you, and rich with good time and real growing.
Zihna is a recent seminary graduate living in southern Arizona, learning Spanish and church work and how much life there is in the desert.