There are different ways to hold on. Standing while riding on the the Metro sometimes requires a firm, if not tight, hold onto the bar. For me, riding a roller coaster leads to a death grip on the bars. Firmly holding the hand of a young child while crossing the street is prudent.

There is a difference between holding on tightly and having a firm hold. The first implies a fear or responding to a threat. The second suggests more confidence while still offering some security. Holding loosely takes a large step towards trust.

This time of transition in my life is necessitating discernment in how I am holding things in my life. I find temptation to hold on tightly and yet I know I am must let go. Last week, I wrote about how Moses is my biblical mentor for this phase. As he could not enter the Promised Land to which he had had faithfully led his people, he had to let go of his own hopes. Of course, he regaled the people with a retelling of the entire story. I promise that I won’t go Deuteronomic on you! I also said last week that I don’t plan to follow Moses’ path to the “t” as I have no plans to die soon.

A wise friend reminded me a couple of days ago that all the times we have to let go in our lives are part of the practice for our death. This brought to mind two deaths to which I have been most intimately close. As my mother faced the knowledge of her impending death, she chose the route of embrace rather than avoidance. Two of my close friends—one, Elmer, who was facing his own death from cancer just over three months later—called this “doing a Mary Grace.” Elmer chose his own style of doing a “Mary Grace,” leaving even as he knew we were not ready to let him go.

The other death intimate in my life was Jeff’s. Even though all the signs indicated that his death was soon to come, he was actually fighting it all the way, to the point that he was combative with the hospice staff even as he was unconscious. They discovered how much muscular strength he still had. His fearsome grasping eased when Sister B., Linda, and the others prayed the Rosary surrounding his bed with healing presence.

I pray that in all steps of my journey I am able to hold loosely, trusting I that I am in God’s presence at all times, as are those I love.

Psalm 13
Lord, my heart isn’t proud;
my eyes aren’t conceited.
I don’t get involved with things too great or wonderful for me.
No. But I have calmed and quieted myself[a]
like a weaned child on its mother;
I’m like the weaned child that is with me.
Israel, wait for the Lord —
from now until forever from now!