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Bygones

My spiritual journey may be as much about what I’ve discovered and cultivated as it is about what I’ve left behind.

I’m presently facilitating a Quaker discussion group for those in my congregation who are relatively new and are seeking a richer understanding of the Quaker tradition. We’ve begun by sharing our own stories: how we ended up at Camas Friends Church, including all the people, forces, and experiences that facilitated our spiritual journey to this point.

Two common themes in these stories were disillusionment and deconstruction: the experience of becoming increasingly troubled by elements of our religious pasts; and the dismantling of once-taken-for-granted truths that no longer seem to “work.”

And, at the risk of forcing a narrative on the participants, I feel like I observed a common movement toward Love in these stories. Like the discovery of a kernel beneath layers of religious baggage or a light at the end of a traumatic tunnel. A kernel worth retaining and a light worth magnifying, despite the reasonable option of leaving religion behind altogether.

Twelve Things I Believe About Hope

With Easter approaching, my liturgical mind shifts toward hope. The hope of resurrection and new life. The hope of regenerative transformation of wounded and wound-ers. The hope that the Love-centered moral vision of Jesus might increasingly take up residence in our world.  The hope that it won’t be this difficult—whatever “difficult” means to each of us—forever.

But how do you hope? The word “hope” is thrown around more often than befits its usage, I think. “I hope” is often used as though it were synonymous with “I wish” or “I want it real bad” or “that sounds nice but it’s out of my hands.” But I think hope offers and demands so much more than does wishing, wanting, or felt powerlessness.

The following are a few things I believe about hope, informed by my faith, study, personal experience, and cultural identity (both an asset and a liability in terms of what I can see and say):

Love is Letting Go

Love is letting go.

Love can mean holding on. Fidelity. Commitment. Steadiness. Persistence.

But love is often letting go.

Control often feels like the way to love. But my experience tells me, in the end, control is not the way to love. Control dismisses, demeans, misdirects, imposes, and stifles. Love is letting go.

Love is letting go of my expectations for you. Letting go of my delusion that because I feel care for you, I must indisputably be doing what’s best for you. Love is more self-critical and adaptable than that. Love is letting go of my plan for your life. Letting you be as you are, not as I wish you were, or how, out of entitlement, I feel you should be, as though you owe it to me.

Love is letting go of my control over your process. Letting you react. Letting you overreact. Letting you underreact. Love is letting go of my impulse to control the conversation, even if I think I’m protecting you. I may just be trying to protect myself, and needlessly.