Monday, September 13, 2010

The Art of Leavings

We talked about Leavings this weekend in the Contemplative Service. Life is full of them, so we need to leave well.

Leavings can be Geographical, Relational, Belief Systems, Behavior Patterns:
  • I left Norwich, England.
  • I left an unhealthy friendship
  • I left the belief that God was pleased when I felt guilty
  • I am leaving the pattern of always believing someone is going to tell me something negative when they ask to speak to me.

As you can see from my list above, some Leavings are simpler than others, some are one time events whereas some are ongoing.

Early on in this service we used the following Liturgy:


A Litany of Leaving
Gen 12:1; Jonah 1-2a, 3a; Matt 13b; John 8 10-11; Psalm 139: 7- 12

Now the Lord said to Abram,
“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land I will show you.”


Is there anyplace I can go to avoid Your Spirit? To be out of Your sight?

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai saying,
“Go at once to Nineveh, that great city and cry out against it”
But Jonah set out to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.

If I climb to the sky, You’re there! If I go underground, You’re there!

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt.”

If I flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, You’d find me in a minute –
You’re already there waiting!

Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.”
And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”

It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to You:
Night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to You.



The interweaving of different biblical accounts of Leavings combined with the Psalmist's experience of the presence of God seemed to work well.

As I was reflecting more on Leavings, I think they fall into 4 categories, and I've enlisted the help of a group of talented rabbits to explain what I mean:

1. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn."



(the 30 second Bunnies present 'Gone with The Wind')

Some things are easy to leave. We put them to one side and move on with barely a second thought to whatever we have left. I must confess that I've only seen G.W.T.W. once, but when I was thinking through this post, Rhett's line was what sprang to mind.

2. "...and if you don't get on that plane, you'll regret it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life."



(ok, so the quote wasn't in this 30 second Casablanca, but it was still a great little clip.)

There are some leavings we agonize over, is this the right decision or not. We know that our leaving will impact our lives in ways we cannot foresee. I need to realize that any leaving, even a pleasant one, has an element of grief to it. Any emotions that are connected to what we have left behind are going to 'flap lose in the wind' for a while.

3. "I'll never let go, Jack. I promise."


(This is definitely a more palatable version of Titanic.)

Some Leavings are not of our choosing. These can be some of the most difficult to accept and the hardest to grieve.

4. "I wish I knew how to quit you."


(Bunnies running wild on Brokeback Mountain)

Some things are practically impossible to leave, even when staying is destroying us. Belief systems, addictive behaviors, unhealthy relationships can all have a hold on us that require supernatural intervention to break.

Fortunately we have a God who not only loves us, but never abandons us. No matter how far we may leave, we cannot leave His presence.


Is there any place you can go to avoid My Spirit? To be out of My sight?
If you climb to the sky, I'm there! If you go underground, I'm there!
If you flew on morning’s wings to the far western horizon, I'd find you in a minute –
I'm already there waiting!
Hear Me say to you, “Oh, I even see you in the dark!
At night You're immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to me;
Night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to me.



What leavings come to mind as you read this post? How was God present to you in the midst of them?

1 comment:

Kathryn Kelley said...

aaagggh. i can't even begin to go there right now without getting stuck in a big fat hole and i am still just trying to climb out.