Saturday, March 14, 2009

On Detachment

For the better part of the day yesterday, and for quite a few days earlier this week, I struggled with a decision. I knew that this morning, I would be standing in front of a crowd of people thirsting for some truth, some wise words, some reason to deepen their understanding of God and-or the level at which they would marvel at the way He accompanies us on our journey through life. The question though was what exactly would I have to say to this crowd? How would I tell the truth that I've been called to share with them?

Finally yesterday afternoon, I sat down and wrote a few thoughts. I've been asked on at least three other occasions to lead one of the five Saturday sessions which form part of this mini retreat, and every time, I'm nervous about what I will say.

The theme for this year's retreat is Who are you in Christ? This subject is broad enough to allow for a number of different interpretations and there's lots of room for individual personalities to enter the picture. As subtexts to guide our preparation, a series of titles were provided to the presenters, and mine was Detachment from the world.

Many possible images danced in my mind but it wasn't until I was actually standing in front of the gathered crowd that I was able to begin expressing the truth that needed to be told. For a professed introvert who likes to know what's going to happen even before it takes place, that's a difficult thing to do, but it's a lesson in trust that I guess I need to learn.

Starting with the parable of the rich young man, I tried to reflect on the call that each of us faces to be a disciple, a call to let go of our security blankets and to trust that all will be well in the murky land of the unknown. This is a call that necessitates a certain letting go, and sometimes the process of surrendering can be the most difficult challenge in and of itself. But then again, that's one of the truths that Lent calls us all to face: the fact that whether or not we want to admit it, we're not in charge of the big picture, and when God calls, all we can do is cooperate. If we try to put up roadblocks, He just finds another way around, like water that's momentarily stopped by a fragile dam.

Life presents all kinds of challenges. Many of us are all too aware of economic turbulence that characterizes the investment horizon these days. Living with the uncertainty of this turbulence can indeed be very trying, but in the end, if we're able to keep at least a modicum of perspective and find at least some balance in the midst of everything that we have to juggle, there is a ray of hope.

A world that has become too accustomed to material wealth is now being severely tested, but at the other end of the tunnel, what we stand to gain will be a renewed appreciation for the people in our lives, and a humility that allows us to reach out a hand of assistance to those who need our help while also being able to admit that we ourselves can't live life on our own, without the help of others from time to time. Other generations have known this truth; we just need to learn it.

The morning ended with some time to reflect on the parable of the prodigal son, yet another wonderful example of the power of detachment, and the freedom that comes when we put our energies into building and cultivating relationships rather than amassing tangible wealth. Someone who has experienced the power of this kind of love is truly wealthy, and is able to share an inexhaustible source of blessings with others.

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