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Release (by Peter Friedrichs)

I wish I were like the trees,
Who let their leaves go
gracefully, without regret.

Or the tumbling stream
that flushes silt to sea,
Exchanging murkiness
for blessed clarity.

Or the dandelion,
who bows its head
to the subtle breeze,
Unleashing its future
without fear or loss.

Instead, I drive white-knuckled,
defensive, as we were taught,
Tense and guarded for
what may come my way.

I keep a death-grip
on my life.

If you asked me for my dying wish
It would not be for
ten more wishes.

It would be to let go
of wishing any more.

Wishing I’d made different choices,
and that I hadn’t hurt you
as I did.
And to forego these old and dusty
grudges that I keep like pictures
in a shoebox beside my bed.

I long to embrace my life
with a lover’s touch,
or as you would an injured wren:
precious, tender, true.

Instead, regret and fear,
twin anchors, hold me fast,
close in against the shore.

“Cast off! Cast off!”
I hear them call
from the open, exotic lands
my heart yearns for.

But the waters in between
my here and theirs
hold unknown hazards,
unlike this dark familiar port.

This day, a prayer:
To ease my grip
on what once was,
or what is meant to be.

That I may find
Myself content
To drift and float
Upon life’s boundless sea.


I heard this poem recently in chapel where another chaplain read it during her meditation.  I felt the feeling of release as she read it out loud.

A nice reminder for the new year, a new morning and a new day…

Perhaps the best way to pray, as a reminder, is simply with open unclenched hands.  Gripping them tight I feel the stress and tension that comes from living a white knuckled life.  Out of fear, keeping a death grip on all those things I think I can control.  In this moment I open my hands, take a breath and let go of the past and future and rest in the love of God.  To surrender and let it all unfold in a spirit of trust.