Some would say, to hold loosely is not to care.
To create enough distance, so that we do not get attached, be it to people or things.
For it is mostly people & things we get attached to.
People & things we want to own as our own & hang on too, for dear life, lest we lose it.
And so we lock it up & chain it down, people & things, hoping that they will be ours, for eternity.
To our benefit, off course.
Our comfort & convenience.
Unless we hold loosely.
Then we don’t care enough, they would say, but they would be wrong off course, in some sense, for to hold loosely is not to be without ove or affection, it is to love more.
To love, without possessing.
Which is perhaps a better kind of love.
I read this story a long time ago: The story of an elderly couple who was without child & then receives a child, only to be asked to give up that child.
If you know Jewish or Christian or Islamic literature, you may know this story.
It is the story of a man called Abraham, his wife who laughed at God & a slave-girl whose body was taken by them.
To be thrown away, after she was used.
It is the story of learning, to hold loosely & receive with gratitude.
We think we own.
But we do not.
Not our children.
Not our partner.
Not our friends.
Nor the car or bike or house we so meticulously select & furnish & insure.
Nor the job or opportunity we claim as the fruit of our labour.
Have you ever lost something?
A partner, in a messy divorce?
All your riches in an unpreventable bankruptcy?
A child, at a grave?
Or perhaps, because I was holding on & controlling too much?
A bit of health, as oldage overwhelms me, or bad luck & bad decisions & bad food conspire together?
Loss is woven into every fibre of this life.
It is the golden thread stitched into every moment’s birth.
Every day I lose.
At 42 I am not as strong & energetic as I was at 24.
The gift of holding my son for the first time, of receiving my 3 daughters, of changing their nappies & singing for them so that they may sleep – this gift is lost, forever.
I may hold another baby, but they will never be babies again.
I may play board games with other 7 and 8 year olds, but never again with them.
And yet, as they age from newborns & we lose this gift, we gain new gifts of sharing life with them as teenagers & perhaps one day as adults who have become more than I could ever hope to be.
The thread of loss intertwined with the thread of gain, in every bit of life & living.
Almost as if we need to lose, so that we may gain?
In the loss of my childrens’ infancy, the gain of something new & beautiful is evident, but we fail to see that the same is true in the rest of life, two threads intertwined in everything.
Gift, beyond reason.
When we see this, embrace this, we learn to hold loosely.
To give up ownership & the desire to control.
To enjoy, cherish, while enrusted to us & to be grateful when it is lost, for its loss makes way for something different to hold & cherish.
And so I am reminded to hold loosely.
And I encourage you to do so too.
For I have discovered in holding loosely, we learn to love more, appreciate more, aware that we do not own forever & have no ‘right’ to have, a deeper sense of gratitude guiding us, as we embrace & enable what, before, we would have strangled & constricted.
This is 礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ) – The Way of the Gift, for (s)He who gave the elderly Abraham & Sarah their Isaac, is the Gift & the Giver who lovingly creates this tapestry, delicately weaving with caring hands the golden threads of loss & gain into every moment.
Always turning loss around, so that it will be gain.
(s)He did it when (s)He became like us, losing Deity, but gaining the beauty of the perfect synergy of flesh & spirit, losing it again, as (s)He is the Gift of life, so that we may be gift as well.
This, I believe, is what is described in an ancient letter, when it is said: ” we know that to them that is loved by God, all things work together for good.”
You are loved by God, our Origin.
You are receiver of this great gift, all things, loss & gain, woven together for good.
In your life.
And tomorrow, as time folds & becomes irrelevant in eternity.
May we see this, I breathe, and embrace it with gratitude, along 礼品之路 ( Lǐpǐn zhī lù ), this astounding Way of the Gift.