When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
So wrote the Beatles in March 1970.
Spend a couple of minutes singing along if you want to. Okay: enough!
This hit song refers to a Catholic theology which depicts Mary as playing a prominent role in the ongoing life of the church. Many protestants would, of course, take issue with some, or all, aspects of Marian theology. The purpose of this reflection is not to enter into a debate about Mary’s (or any other ‘saints’) ongoing role, but to instead focus on hearing God’s word whispered into our hour of darkness and, having the confidence, or trust, to let things just be. This is sometimes so difficult!
Why let things be when every instinct after all says take control, try harder, keep going, strive on etc? When every impulse argues ‘I’m right,’ and ‘your wrong.’
When we can’t let things be we can become hyper competitive, sometimes we need to win simply for the sake of winning, on other occasions our pride prevents us from letting things be because we become so committed to a point of view that backing down,or, accepting we are wrong becomes an impossibility; we become imprisoned by our own levels of ever escalating commitment to what is, in all probability, a forlorn cause, a battle we are bound to lose.
In our minds we may seek to build increasingly clever (but often mean spirited) arguments. Another ‘favored strategy’ may be to personalize an issue. If our arguments are flaky or misinformed real, malignant, momentum can be sustained by invoking hate! Have you ever behaved like this? I have!
Even, if we do win our, somewhat hollow, victory is likely to cause others pain, anguish and self-doubt. The modern fixations with self-reliance, independence autonomy and, never ending choice dismiss all notions of passivity and, letting be (the Gethsemane moment in other words!). We are encouraged to be competitive, unyielding, spirits. The passive and those who let go are regarded as weak.
It is true that some bible stories, the Persistent Widow for example, reveal the benefits of persistence (i.e. not letting go), however, discernment is surely about knowing where to persist and, where to let go? I know that my default position is to persist, what’s yours?
When we refuse to let things be we are in danger of assigning to ourselves two theological roles: we become the creator or designer and, the judge. These two roles belong to the first person of the Trinity, the Father.
Now as human beings, made in the very image of God, we are called onto exercise our free will, use our intelligence, make judgments and, act ethically but, we are also called on to ‘love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God,’ (Micah 6,8); letting God do the doing, if you like.
When we are in a heightened competitive state we simply aren’t able to hear the Beatles’ ‘whispered words of wisdom,’ or the hymn writer John Whiittier’s ‘still small voice of calm,’ emerging from the darkness and noise. The song writers seem to be saying to us: ‘Look, I know you are anxious, uptight and argumentative; that your mind is full of argument and counter argument, that your are invoking feelings of hatred and perceived injustice to support your position, but please just for a short period of time chill out, take stock and let wisdom talk into the situation.’
So how can we do this? The liturgy of the Midday Office from Celtic Daily Prayer is framed by and adaption of Psalm 90 verse 17, ‘let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us and establish thou the work of hands, establish thou the work of our hands, dear Lord.’ Simply entering into this verse, allowing the beauty of the Lord to gaze upon you for a few minutes each day, in the hope your efforts may be properly directed, by God, might not be a bad start.
Go on give it a go, after all in the eyes of God your worth it!
Do you recognize the tendency to persist when letting go might be a better strategy?
Are you currently fixated about a particular issue?
Do you let God shine His beauty upon you, thereby establishing the work of your hands?