Transition — A time of letting go
Over the next couple of weeks, like many of you, I will be attending a variety of graduation parties held in freshly cleaned-out garages. Having hosted our youngest child’s graduation party last year, I know how crazy the month can get. As I look at my spring calendar, I’m also reminded that it’s the season for weddings. Both graduations and weddings are what we sometimes call “liminal” moments — that is, moments of transition from one thing to another.
Liminal moments create opportunities for great change and growth, but only because they are also moments of chaos and disorder. During liminal moments many of our old assumptions no longer work and we don’t know enough about the future to make any plans with great certainty. Successfully making it through a liminal moment requires us to be comfortable for a while with uncertainty and mystery.
Graduation and marriage aren’t the only liminal moments in our lives. Changing jobs, having children, moving, and the death of loved ones are among the many things that can put our lives into a time of transition. As we move through transition we are tempted to put our main focus on our new future — new job, new child, new spouse, etc. But a successful transition also requires an equal focus on what we need to leave behind.
Actor Anne Lamott once wrote, “Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.” Letting go isn’t easy. The things we let go of — whether it’s a child heading off on their own or the home where we lived for the last 20 years — these things represent everything that’s familiar and comforting. But a certain amount of letting go is necessary if we are to make a successful journey to whatever is new.
On my recent walks around town I’ve been seeing quite a few bird eggs cracked open on the ground. Liminal moments are no easier for creatures in the natural world than they are for us. I am reminded that many of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels were about letting go: Letting go of possessions, letting go of ego, and even letting go of one’s life. When we practice letting go of things, we create an open possibility for new things to happen.
I hope that everyone preparing for graduation or marriage has a celebration full of blessings. And I pray that you discover what it is you need to let go of as you transition to whatever new thing God is preparing for you.