Friday, November 8, 2013

"Letting go," three ways....

From A Member's-Eye View of Alcoholics Anonymous; my bold.
Finally, there is the reversal of form which A.A.'s educational process takes.  The newcomer to A.A. is asked, not so much to learn new values, as to unlearn those he comes in with; not so much to adopt new goals, as to abandon old ones.  To my mind, one of the most significant sentences in the entire book Alcoholics Anonymous is this:  "Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely."  The rigidity with which even some nondrinking alcoholics will cling to the opinions, beliefs, and convictions they had upon entering A.A. is well-nigh incredible.  One of the major objectives of A.A. therapy is to help the alcoholic finally recognize these ideas and become willing to relinquish his death grip on them.

From Sr. Heléna Marie, CHS, in "What the Religious Life Is and Is Not"; my bold.
The religious life is the ultimate form of surrender. One brings all that one is and all that one has to God in a gesture of complete giving. It is a way of "coming to the desert". Like the desert mothers and fathers of the early Christian era, joining a religious community is a countercultural move away from mainstream culture and mores, to a radical lifestyle that flies in the face of societal values.

It is a way of saying that your life is now devoted to the One Thing (however you would define this; Jesus called it "the pearl of great price"). It is a life centered in prayer; this basic orientation is one of the ways in which we are countercultural.

It is community with all that means: difficult people, the "sandpaper effect" of challenging relationships, having to change when the impulse is not to change, and the joys of relationships and corporate life. It is a way of life designed to help one transcend the ego, which does not willingly go. This path involved intense struggle. The religious life is itself a vehicle of radical transformation.

From Matthew 18:2-4; my bold.
And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

"Letting go" is a freeing process; in A.A. we call it "becoming teachable."  It allows us to be open to new ideas - to grow and change and become more than we would otherwise be.   We can abandon old, false ideas and habits, and be renewed.

We can avoid, in other words, becoming sclerotic, rigid, tiresome bores; we can continually learn new things, and never have to be stuck in old patterns and belief systems.

"Self-emptying" is actually the most freeing (and interesting!) move we can ever make....

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