My daughter was in a state of depression. Her bike was stolen in school. She parked it and said she would lock it later, as she went nearby to buy a drink from a vendor. When she turned around, it was gone. She could not sleep for many nights.


I told her she had to let go of material attachments. They are passing things in our lives. Our lives have to be centered on spiritual things. I told her, “So you lost a bike. So what. Let’s buy a new one when we can afford it. I mean, how much is a bike, a thousand?” She answered, “Two five.” I said, “So give me time. Suffer the few weeks you have no bike, but don’t let it give you ulcers.” She understood right away. She was silent for a long moment, looking far at the clouds. Then she smiled and we had nice lunch. She slept well that night. The art of letting go involves an act of the free will, the heart reminding itself that material things, no matter how valuable, are nothing. We have to let the spirit take over our material environment. We just have to learn the art of letting go, otherwise, we are the losers. Sometimes, there are hurdles for us to enter our inner garden.


The same is true when you get hurt. A friend insults you out of reflex anger. She did not really mean it. But you are hurt. You can’t help it. Hurt is a reflex. But an act of your will after the reflex can reverse that instantly. Forgiveness is the art of letting go of hurts and consequent vengeance. Vengeance and hatred hurts you more than the hurt itself that a friend gives you. Forgiveness makes you whole. Vengeance consumes you. Remember, you can never really get hurt without your willing it. At the first reflex, nip it in the bud. Forgive. Make it a habit. You will discover life is better and more enjoyable.


You’ve probably heard of this story before. Stephen Covey relates how a nurse came to him for advice. She had this home patient, a cranky old man. She did not mind fixing his bed, bathing him, cooking his meals. What she minded was his dirty mouth. He would insult and shout at her at will the whole time at every turn. She kept it to herself, otherwise she would lose her job. She spent sleepless nights and shed gallons of tears. When she could no longer bear it, when she was at the verge of a breakdown, she went to Stephen. Stephen just said a few words, “You cannot get hurt without willing it. If you refuse to get hurt, then you are not hurt.”


The nurse looked far away, just like my daughter. It was at that moment of discovery, the moment of catharsis, when your world can change instantly from a desert to a garden, from a storm to a breeze. The next day, when the old man shouted at her, she just smiled. The whole day, she gave a smile for every shout. This made the old man really angry. He was enjoying making her miserable as his outlet from his pain. Now, it no longer worked. The nurse went home happy and never had a sleepless night. It was the turn of the old man to have sleepless nights. The art of letting go is an act of the will not to get hurt. Eventually, the old man calmed down and never shouted again. The smiles worked. Eventually, he traded her smile with his smile. Eventually, they became friends. Eventually life became more bearable for both.


Lord, teach me the art of letting go
to turn hurt into a smile
to find the eye of the storms in my life
to see a rose, not its thorns
to discern inner peace when there is chaos
light when there is darkness
silence when everyone is screaming


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