“The soul does not grow by addition but by subtraction” —Meister Eckhart
The churches of my childhood did not teach me anything about Lent. In college, I learned about the tradition of giving something up for 40 days before Easter. But even then I was encouraged, instead of following tradition, to take something on, to improve my spiritual life by committing to prayer or devotional practice. It wasn’t until I had grown into adulthood that the tradition of letting go became my own. Maybe because it was a choice for me, or maybe the maturity of age, or a better understanding of the tradition – whatever the reason, I have come to embrace the simple practice of letting go during Lent. In doing so, I’m reminded that I live a life of abundance and I take way too much for granted. Saying no to something, anything, becomes a simple act of resistance to the “more, more, more” mentality of American culture.
My life is bombarded with the seduction of success – of never-ending ways to improve myself personally and professionally, financially and relationally, physically and emotionally. I have a seemingly endless to-do list in every aspect of my life. Opportunities abound for becoming my best self, living life to the fullest, and making the most of each day. Saying no to something, no matter how small, is my own little protest. No, I don’t need to do one more thing for others, for myself or even for God. What I desperately need, instead, is to let go of the lure of more, and embrace the beauty of enough.
This Lenten season, I encourage you to let go of something that prevents you from enjoying all that you have. Say no to one more project. Say no to one more commitment. Say no to one more dessert. Whatever will help you embrace all you already have, all that you are, and all that God has provided.