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The Spirituality of Letting Go

November 19, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 4 Comments

Spirituality is always about letting go.” Richard Rohr

As I have written several times in the past few years, my personal spirituality is now based on lessons I have learned from the mystics like Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and John of the Cross. And very prominently by contemporary teacher, Richard Rohr.

First Things

It is from these teachers I have discovered that deep spirituality begins with me and my willingness to explore my own predilections, biases, and beliefs. In doing so, I inevitably encounter my own idols—things I choose to hold on to very dearly.

Idolatry, it seems to me, is the primary issue of concern in the Old Testament. God’s people look to a myriad of “things” to worship instead of God—the worship of false idols is of special interest in the mind of God. But what exactly are false idols? Especially, what are the false idols today? And even more important, what are My idols?

False Idols

In the OT false idols were actual idols representing other gods. For us, however, “other gods” are most often the things we have come to adore and follow. In my mind, human nature is built to worship. For that reason, idolatry runs its wicked course through all we do and love in life—sports teams, musicians, political leaders, “successful” people… the list is never-ending and is most certainly particular to each individual.

With that in mind, Richard Rohr prompts us to “let go.” “Spirituality is always about letting go.” That is, letting go of the ties that bind us. And those “ties” are usually the idols we have come to worship.

The Idol of Me

It is at this point the message of the mystics always leads to personal reflection and the uncomfortable realization that the idol I must eventually wrestle with is the “Idol of Me.” This tedious obsession with myself can easily be recognized by my overpowering hunger for power, prestige, and possessions.

And so Richard, with the influence of the community of mystics, guides us to turn to our own individualized idol of the “self.” The Letting Go begins with letting go of our own egoic needs for attention and acquisitions. These egoic needs are always the first and primary roadblock to spirituality.

When Letting Go Becomes Personal

I think it is at this point that the mystics go “from preaching to meddling.” It is at this point the message becomes far too personal. In a world that preaches the problem is typically found “out there” somewhere, the likes of Richard Rohr stir our hearts to look deeply into our own core of needs and beliefs.

My true spirituality can only rise after I come to the place where I can begin to let go… of Me.

Letting Go

Begins with Letting Go of Me

Photo courtesy of SunnyVMD at istockphoto

IMPT CORRECTIONS: Emotions are Not Measurable

May 23, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.” Dale Carnegie

Since the inception of the Age of Enlightenment, the West has embraced a left-brained, logic-focused epistemology for determining truth and authority. Whereas in the pre-Enlightenment period, romanticism and pathos remained strong influencers in the ways people determined reality. My penchant for medieval mysticism stems from that line of thinking.
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Your Connectivity Quotient

January 29, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

The need for connection and community is primal, as fundamental as the need for air, water, and food.” Dean Ornish

Just recently I visited with a podcast guest, Radhia Gleis—an elder for 25 years in a cult called the Buddha-field. Radhia and I concluded that two primal human needs, the needs for connection and community, are the very needs that draw a person to a cultish group. That is because the introduction to a cult provides a safe place to fill those needs… that is until “the wizard’s curtain” is pulled away only to discover the terrifying narcissistic pathology of a demented leader.

I use the example of a cult to emphasize just how powerful are those two ravenous human needs. We long, often desperately, for the love of a person and the acceptance of a significant group of people. To need connection and community is to be human!
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Change is Inconvenient

January 22, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

 

Culture likes the status quo!Seth Godin

In one of his latest provocative posts Seth Godin writes about the reluctance of culture (and individuals) to change because staying the same is more convenient.
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A Habit is a Decision

October 9, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Who you are is not an absolute… It is a choice.Rich Litvan

How many times have you heard someone defend themselves with the words, “That’s just the way I am?”
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Ability Can Be Overrated

March 13, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

Our gift is more about our level of natural interest, curiosity, and desire than our level of natural ability.” Steve Sample, Discover Your Gift

Near the age of sixty, with no past successes in art to lean on, I decided to teach myself to paint. My first painting was the simple picture highlighted in the opening of this post. Do I have an “ability” to paint? Not really. But I so enjoyed the process of painting and the creativity it generated that I continued to paint rather rigorously for the next seven years. Interest, curiosity and desire took precedence over ability, or should I say “inability.”
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Saved by Beauty

March 6, 2021 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

In difficult times carry something beautiful in your heart.” Blaise Pascal

“Although I can’t define it, I know it when I see it.” Oddly enough, the oft-misquoted statement regarding obscenity/pornography rigorously applies to beauty as well.
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When Giving is an Act of Pride

November 9, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 2 Comments

“All you have is what you are, and what you give.” Ursula K. Le Guin

Perhaps the deepest measure of our character, of our very humanity, is how much we go on giving when what we most value is taken from us — when a loved one withholds their love, when the world withdraws its mercy.”

“If equal affection cannot be / Let the more loving one be me,” W.H. Auden wrote in a poem contemplating the courage to love more and to give more, even in the face of the most heartbreaking and elemental disparity of passions. Maria Popova

I often find that Maria Popova’s newsletter Brainpickings wriggles its way into an inspired personal state of mind that leads to several of my blog posts. She is a grand thinker with widespread interests, frequently intersecting with my own. Such is true for this post.
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You’re Gonna Have to Trust Something

February 23, 2019 by Charlie Hedges − 9 Comments

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Steve Jobs

I don’t know what the future has in store for me.

Oh, I may think I know my future in the shorter term but even those plans can be changed in instant. You know how true that is for yourself as well. How many times have you been surprised by life? How many of your greatest joys, and most difficult sorrows, came completely by surprise?
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2 Traditions for Growing Enriching Relationships

December 29, 2018 by Charlie Hedges − 3 Comments

“Tradition is a guide and not a jailer.” W. Somerset Maugham

Few, if any, things will prove to be more important in your life than your relationships, especially your most valuable ones. There a small handful of people in my life that really counts deeply over the long run. For me my family holds a superior place in my landscape of meaningful relationships. My wife, Pam, and my son, Austin, are undoubtedly the most important people to me.

But powerful, long-lasting relationships don’t just survive “willy-nilly.” They require an intentional sort to of love that surpasses almost anything else I do. By intentional I mean that there are certain things I do and ways I behave that are thoughtful, caring, loving and supportive.

For nearly our entire thirty-three year of marriage Pam and I have honored two annual traditions that indeed make a difference and neither of them requires anything more than a couple of joyful endeavors.

I’d like to tell you about these traditions so that you might consider them.

Tradition #1: Letters

We have created a habit of writing letters on three special days each year: Christmas, Birthdays, and Valentine’s Day (and sometimes on an anniversary). Our letters are not long exhausting tomes—one-half to one page. They consist of telling the other person why they are so special on that particular day. Undoubtedly, the Christmas letter seems to be the most important because we rehearse all the loving and caring behaviors we have so adored and appreciated by the other person over the past year.

Although he received letters from an early age, Austin joined in the letter writing process at about twelve years old and has continued for fourteen years. Since we all write letters to each other Austin and I have a competition to see who can make mom cry the most. This year he was the champ and I am so proud of him for doing so.

Our letters have truly become our most treasured gifts on Christmas morning. We always save them for last.

Tradition #2: Annual Relational Inventory

For all these years Pam and I look forward to our annual tradition of going away for two to three nights for fun, uninterrupted alone time, and for taking a “relational inventory.” What I mean by this is we go where no man has dared to go. We actually ask each other, “What kind of husband/wife was I last year?”

Believe me, when we are candid these have been both joyful times and very, very heartrending times of honesty. They are sometimes incorporated with tears and a “slap in the face” of a reality that generally goes undiscussed until too late. However, with each of us desiring to make our marriage last we each realize this tradition is essential.

This habit is far from an annual goal-setting process. It is personal and evocative. We have learned one question to wrap up our discussions that I now feel is essential. We DO NOT ask “what can I do better,” because experience has told me that creating such a list is more disruptive than it is helpful. How about this instead, “What do you need from me this next year?” That question allows for dialogue to come up with a solution that is acceptable to both of us.

FYI—In addition we spend a bit of time on budgets and potential vacations.

Finally, it’s still not too late for you to do an annual inventory on 2018 to lead to a rich 2019. Our two traditions have proved to be most impactful for all our family members. And there is nobody I would rather please and serve Pam and Austin.

Wishing you a rich 2019, filled with love and support.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know…

Until You Ask

 

Photo courtesy of Pam Hedges

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