The hot air balloon beginning its ascent, and the kite being launched into the sky, are a beautiful metaphor for my message…………………There is peace in release. It always amazes me how the Lord knows when it is time for a new beginning. We’re so busy with our daily lives and responsibilities that we are totally unaware of the Divine changes or transitions that are coming our way. The date was Thursday, January 24, 2008 and I was shopping at a small women’s clothing store. I carried my selections into the dressing room and began trying things on. There was background music playing that I initially wasn’t paying much attention to, but after hearing the same words repeated over and over I started listening more intently. I have no idea what the title of the song was or who was singing it. I had never heard it before and haven’t heard it since. The refrain that kept repeating was, “……………you’ve been hurt, forgive, let go, move on, travel light.” Hmmmm.
A couple of days later, the late January edition of our Diocese’s bi-monthly newspaper arrived in the mail. I looked at the pictures, read the captions underneath, glanced at a couple of articles, like I usually do, and then proceeded to the recycling bin. But on that day, something, or should I say Someone, “directed” me to the calendar section of that newspaper where upcoming activities for the month of February were posted. Listed under events for February 9th, was a program titled, The Grace of Letting Go being held at a local retreat center. I gave them a call and signed up for the day-long program.
Upon arriving at the retreat, it quickly became evident that this program had attracted a lot of people as the parking lot was jammed with cars. In the little chapel where the program was being held, people were shoulder to shoulder in the pews. The priest that was the speaker at the retreat, offered a personal testimony of “letting go” and we were given opportunities for silent reflection and introspection. At the end of the day, we all participated in a “letting go” ceremony. The priest asked us to reflect on emotions that we were holding onto such as resentment, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, hurt and pain. We were all given votive candles and we lit them using a large candle that was being passed from person to person in the pews. Two at a time we walked forward with our candles. We were placing whatever life-draining emotions we had harbored in our hearts onto the altar. After the retreat, I spent some time talking with the people I had met. Some of them shared that they didn’t realize how much ‘weight’ they had been carrying around and others said that although they still have long way to go in the releasing process, they felt ‘lighter’ now.
One of my favorite animated films is Disney’s “UP“. I loved the colorful characters and sentimental story line. But there was a deeper message in that film. Carl, a retired balloon salesman, had to learn how to let go of the weighty issues. It wasn’t until he released his house that it ended up landing in the exact location that he wanted all along. I had a conversation recently with a friend who had the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride. She said that as the passengers board, team members are holding onto ropes that keep the balloon in position. Once the flame roars to life, and the balloon begins its ascent, the ropes are released. Metaphorically, the team members could represent the ‘weighty issues’ and by releasing them, the balloon could rise up to a new level.
The program I received at The Grace of Letting Go had a picture of a kite on the cover. I have no memory of anyone talking about kites and how they related to the process of letting go. So I started thinking, suppose I had a kite made of white cloth or fabric that I could write on. What would I write on my kite? The words that reflected the life-draining emotions and feelings that were locked away in my heart. Then I would wait for a windy day to go fly my kite. Now imagine being at the beach or an open meadow and launching your kite into the sky. At first the kite sputters, but then it catches an updraft, sending it into the clouds. You say a prayer, “Father, give me the grace to let this go” and then watch as the words float off the kite into the blue, where you hand it over to God. And in a kind of Divine Exchange, He fills the newly created space in your heart with life-giving thoughts and attitudes. In my life, I have had and will continue to have many releasing ceremonies. But they come easier for me now since I am learning how to let go and let God. Like a bud that begins to open, revealing petals of brilliant colors, I am gradually opening up too………..revealing the joy, love, freedom and peace that is growing within me.
About ten months after attending that special February retreat, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. The first words out of her mouth took me completely by surprise. She told me that I had “an aura of peace about me.” It had been fifteen years since anyone had used the word ‘peace’ to describe my appearance! Over the ensuing months, close friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers, and students kept using the same word to describe me. I started calling these encounters, “peace sightings”. I had no idea that the interior calm I was experiencing was being reflected in my face and countenance. So there really is peace in release.
Maybe now would be a good time to pause. To take a moment for an honest introspection. Ask yourself, “Do I have any feelings of resentment, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, hurt and pain that I need to let go of in order to create a space in my heart for a new way of thinking and living?” As I’m putting the finishing touches on this message, the wind is beginning to pick up outside. The tree branches are swaying, the hedges are rustling and crisp brown leaves are dancing across the grass. It just might be a good day to fly a kite.