Letting Go!

Throughout his life, Norman MacCaig (1910-1996) never moved far from Edinburgh, Scotland. He grew up in Edinburgh, studied there, taught Primary/Elementary school there, and then taught at Edinburgh University. When not in Edinburgh, he loved being in the far north of Scotland, in Sutherland in particular. Enjoy his poem.

Small boy

He picked up a pebble
and threw it into the sea.

And another, and another.
He couldn’t stop.

He was just throwing away,
nothing else but.

Like a kitten playing
he was practising for the future

when there’ll be so many things
he’ll want to throw away

if only his fingers will unclench
and let them go.

In this simple image of a small boy throwing stones I sense MacCaig asking of us all to consider what it is we hold on to, and what needs to be let go. Soon we shall be in the season of Lent, a time when we are challenged to assess what we are holding on to and why and what we need to let go. It is not so much practising for the future, it is more about living in the present.

I stand before you
Holy God,
hear my prayer.
Even though the words
are tightly held in my hand.
Help me to open my fingers,
help me to let go of all
that gets in the way.
I stand before you
Holy God,
hear my prayer
Help me to hold on
to all that makes Godly sense
and in the holding
help me embrace this Your world,
and all promises
for me and my neighbor.

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