When letting go is the best strategy

This week, out of concern for the COVID-19 situation, we opted to host our sangha online for the first time, rather than in-person. It went well!

Appropriately to the times, Eveline took up the topic of letting go of expected outcomes, even as we take determined steps toward worthy goals. 

James Baraz, in his talk ‘Skillful Letting Go for Intense Times,’  asks us: when do we find ourselves toppling forward, and what does it feel like? How do worry and fear affect us?  Can mindfulness and clear intention guide us, even as circumstances change, in these uncertain times? 

You can listen to the talk here:

Eveline’s notes are below:

The talk is about how we can let go of our desires for the future, which unsettles us, and live in the present moment.  If we’re going to be attached to something – we should try to be attached to the present moment.

Reaching out to the future through anticipation or attachment is unbalanced, causing worry and anxiety.  We don’t have enough information to know how it’s going to be and most certainly anything we imagine will be wrong.  Living in the ‘now’ is easy and manageable.  What we can do is think of the future, plan for the future, but don’t be attached to the outcome.  Trust that you can handle anything that happens at the time.

One step at a time – we’ve all been able to handle what’s come up in our lives so far, we can handle what comes up in the future as long as we can meet it in the present moment and not get overwhelmed with projections of what is to come.

Additionally, ‘action absorbs anxiety’ – real happiness comes from identifying our own strengths and offering them as contribution.  Have a vision of how you can make a difference in the world and then go out and do it.

Margaret also referred to a poem by an Irish priest (about which you can read more here), which is quoted below:


Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,

Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM