We Love by Letting Go
by Richard Rohr

We cannot love God unless we love God’s world. Christians [should] have always known this, because an incarnate God is a world-loving God; but now it takes on new meaning and depth as we realize the radical interrelationship and interdependence of all forms of life. . . . In sum, we are not called to love God or the world. Rather, we are called to love God in the world. We love God by loving the world. We love God through and with the world. But this turns out to be a kenotic, a sacrificial love. —Sallie McFague [1]

The key to kenosis is knowing that your life is not about you. Everything—each breath, heartbeat, morsel of food, seeming success—is gift. We are entirely dependent upon God’s loving us into being, and keeping us in being, interdependent with all other beings. Your life does not really belong to you, as countercultural and difficult as that is to understand in our individualistic, competitive, consumer culture. As the Trinity reveals, life and love are poured into us that we may pour into others. “It is in giving that we receive.” This is precisely what Jesus modeled for us through his life, death, and resurrection.

Cynthia Bourgeault, one of CAC’s core faculty members,” explores kenosis or letting go as “the Jesus trajectory”:

“Do not store up treasures on earth,” [Jesus] teaches; do not strive or be afraid—“for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). All will come of its own accord in good time and with abundant fullness, so long as one does not attempt to hoard or cling.

It is a path [Jesus] himself walked to the very end. In the garden of Gethsemane, with his betrayers and accusers massing at the gates, he struggled and anguished but remained true to his course. Do not hoard, do not cling—not even to life itself. Let it go, let it be—“Not my will but yours be done, [Father]. Into your hands, I commend my spirit” [Luke 22:42, 23:46].

Thus he came and thus he went, giving himself fully into life and death, losing himself, squandering himself. . . . It was not love stored up but love utterly poured out that opened the gates to the Kingdom of Heaven.

Over and over, Jesus lays this path before us. There is nothing to be renounced or resisted. Everything can be embraced, but the catch is to cling to nothing. You let it go. You go through life like a knife goes through a done cake, picking up nothing, clinging to nothing, sticking to nothing.  And . . . you can then throw yourself out, pour yourself out, being able to give it all back, even giving back life itself. That’s the kenotic path in a nutshell. Very, very simple. It only costs everything. [2]

 

Gateway to Silence:
Let it go; let it be.