Let Go of These 7 Things and Soar

He is an enormous hawk. And he's standing on the ground like a sentry... ah, yes, he's guarding a squirrel. The squirrel is not moving so there's no risk of escape but still the hawk stands there, protecting his dinner.

He is so still and he stands there so long that I decide to try to take his picture. As I walk a little closer, he feels the threat and with a great swoop of his wings picks up the poor squirrel with his talons and carries it to the lowest branch he can find. Now the squirrel is dangling from the branch, pinned, lifeless, and still the hawk doesn't move. He can't. If he moves the squirrel will fall so he sits there for hours, not letting go yet unable to eat.

I'm not sure how the story ends because I got tired of waiting. I assume that eventually the hawk had his dinner because both he and the squirrel are gone. But it reminds me of how hard it is to let go.

How often do we hold ourselves back from what is good out of fear of letting go?

The hawk could have eaten that squirrel right there on the ground with me watching. I wasn't going to snatch it away from him. But he couldn't trust that.
And what if I had wanted that squirrel? Is there a squirrel shortage? Hardly. . .

Is it instinctive to fear that others want what we have? That others will snatch the "food" right out of our mouths? Maybe. . . Can we trust that there's always enough?

What do you need to let go of in order to be truly free?

In this season of Lent, I would like to suggest some things to let go of that can help you be fully liberated. Quoting from Evelyn Underhill's The Mount of Purification:
  1. Pride, uppishness, the great instinct of self-regard. No one can see straight in religion till they get rid of that.
  2. Envy--an inimical, snarky attitude to others, ill-wind in all, even its most subtle and refined forms.
  3. Anger, the combative instinct, turbulence, emotional uproar, self-centred vehemence, the negation of Peace.
  4. Sloth, the opposite number of wholesome zest, the deadly spirit of slackness, fed up-ness, 'is it worth while-ness.'
  5. Avarice, the possessive spirit, grab and hold-tight in all its manifestations.
  6. Gluttony, intemperate enjoyment for its own sake of what is in reason good and allowable.
  7. Lust--letting our instinctual and emotional nature get the upper hand and leading us, instead of our leading it, being ruled by our longings.
There is a reason these are called "The Seven Deadly Sins." They destroy the Spirit within and keep us in bondage to our lower natures. Letting go is not easy. But what would you give to be truly liberated?