Today is the first day of our month-long sabbatical. For the last five years, we’ve taken July off from hosting retreatants and meeting with our directees—from our work! It’s a sacrifice financially and I can remember the first time we both said “yes” to this exercise of faith. It was a bit intimidating. Yet we’ve learned over the last five years that this rhythm has been so important for us as an invitation to rest and refill our souls. So, here we are. July 1, 2021.
As I’ve been thinking about this month and anticipating detaching from work and responsibility, it occurred to me that the threshold practice (i.e. how you get from where you are to where you want to be) that helps me the most is learning to “let it be.” “It” refers to anything that I normally do as part of my work at Fall Creek Abbey. Projects, email correspondence, meetings, writing, reading related to work, etc. Instead of engaging with these “to-do’s,” I simply “let them be.”
I’ve often struggled with “letting things go,” the idea of cutting loose the responsibilities and relationships that comprise my work sphere. To let go is to release, to cease to relate to. That’s hard to do—for me, anyway. So, I’m discovering that to “let it be” is a better way for me to think about what I need to practice, what I must practice, in order to enter this sabbatical rest.
To “let it be” means to allow something to remain in the state it’s in. To let it rest. To recognize and acknowledge that it exists apart from me. That I am not it and it is not me. Therefore, I can “let it be.” The emails in my inbox will be there when I return. The dust on the furniture or the smudges on the windows will be there come August 1st. The writing projects and details and follow-up related to the School of Spiritual Direction will not suffer if I don’t attend to them for a month. They can “be” and will not suffer just because I don’t attend to them for the next 30 days.
So, today marks the first day of my “let it be” campaign. I am signing off; turning on my vacation response; and letting things be. It’s a good exercise because it clearly invites me to experience the embarrassing truth that the world, indeed, can survive without my tending. That people, tasks, and Fall Creek Abbey will not fall apart if I let them be. It’s an exercise in differentiation, in boundary work, in knowing where I end, and where other people and things begin.
Paul, as in McCartney, not the apostle, had a good idea when he sang, “Let it be. Let it be. There will be an answer. Let it be.” So I’m listening, whether to Mother Mary or the Holy Spirit or Life Itself as it whispers these words of wisdom to me today. And I plan to adopt them, though not perfectly or without temptation. Ah, let it be. Yes, indeed. Let it be!