She comes into the kitchen sobbing. A toy that wouldn't be shared among friends was pulled between hands and inevitably, when one let go, it snapped back into her face.
She's crying as the red welt grows above her brow.
"I wanted it," she cries. "I wanted it and she wouldn't give it to me."
I bend low, and kiss her head. "Oh love. Sometimes when you want something, the worst thing to do is to keep pulling and pulling. It's better to just let it go."
I meant it as sound advice, but the words rattled inside of me like a bell.
Sometimes, when you want something, the worst thing to do is to keep pulling.
It's better to just let it go.
It's better to just let it go.
On our drive home last weekend, she fell asleep slack-jawed in the backseat. I turned the music off and steered the car through the fog-laden mountains of northern Pennsylvania. Just last week, these hillsides were a patchwork quilt of oranges, reds, yellows, and evergreen. We marveled and sputtered out words of awe.
Today, these same hills are black. Coal black. Grey and cold, and all the leaves are gone. A few pines stand tall unmoved, but the rest, bare. The sweet songs they gave us last week have gone silent.
It was as though autumn had finished its work, preparing the way for winter. I felt cold. I turned the temperature knob to red. I reached back and pulled the blanket over her bare toes.
I was in a valley of emptiness, and I felt it. We were surrounded by the bare, skeletal hillsides, and I realized I wanted nothing more in that moment but for winter to come. I wanted to step out onto the edge of the hill and listen for the sound of a new song. I wanted to let go of all the things that were dying inside of me; drop them into the valley along with the millions of leaves that were tossed in the grass. All of the things I was pulling on? I was ready to let them go into the early winter winds.
Do you have anything your heart that has died? Any dreams? Hopes? Things that were once beautiful and in one fell swoop, all luster and song was carried away on the wind? There's no easy way to say this. The very truth of God built into the pattern of our world. Let it go and wait for winter.
Because even amidst all this death, in winter, the snow comes and covers this black. It blankets us in white. The space that remains looks bare. It is both a tomb and a cradle. Ready to be covered. Old and pure. Both gone and new.
Below the surface, under the cracking bark and frosted soil, sprouts all the life that will bring promise and hope in the spring.
But before then, winter must and should come.
A friend yesterday asked me, "How? How do I get through this?" I could hear her voice bouncing off the hillsides. From where she stood, her outlook was bleak. Her arms are stretched and things are dying, and she can't figure out if she's pulling or pushing, snapping, breaking or letting go.
"How long will this last?" she asked.
And I told her the honest truth as best as I could: "As long as it needs to."
And again the color shakes away from the trees. We stare loss, emptiness, disappointment, death straight in the face. We brace ourselves for the winter. We wait for the covering. The blanketing. We know that deep in the earth, deep in our hearts, deep under our white-knuckles — life begins again.
And only in that knowing can we stop the pulling, and let go.