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Monk in the World Guest Post: Theresa Walker

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Theresa Walker’s reflection on love, letting go, and letting be.

As a single, never-married woman there were times of loneliness in my life, especially as a young woman when I felt out of step with my peers. Yet the gifts of my beautiful life were always before me for the taking. Sometimes I had to dig deep with a spiritual director, pray, study, and read to find consolation and direction. I had freedom of movement. Where should I make my home? What education to pursue? How much time and commitment was fair to my faith community, and was my giving truly from the heart? 

There were, as for everyone, limits such as financial concerns and responsibilities to my parents. What might be selfish? What might require the courage to let go of others’ expectations as I discerned a path forward? It was not easy to let go of a hard-won independence that in time, almost imperceptibly, led to emotional isolation. As young adulthood became mid-life, self-awareness grew. So did humility. I realized I had to accept help from others when I was down with the flu, reach out to friends in deeper conversations, acknowledge my dreams, and step up by sharing joy and pain, skills and needs within an expanding community.

My teachers and companions in centering prayer during the past thirty years, the many fellow students and practitioners of writing and painting that I have known over that same time, my beloved close friends and family members, the beloved friends and family I have lost and grieve over are the ones who bless me in all my mental reflections and bodily practices. Those practices, since mid-life, are centering prayer, walking, creative work, reiki, listening to others, and attending to the small, clear voice within. Those practices are informed by a quote I read recently (unfortunately, I’ve lost the source). The research, it was said, advised, “Let it go” is good advice, but “Let it be,” is better.

A line from “For Everyone Who Tried on a Slipper before Cinderalla,” a poem by Arian Brown, inspires me. Brown writes, “Love is coming. It’s on the way.”

Yes, I believe it. Love is coming when I open the gift and don’t understand why it was chosen for me. Love is coming when I need a little more sleep, a conversation with a friend, an honest response that shakes me up. A better mood is evolving. Companionship is healing. Forgiveness puts me at ease.

I found love when I placed my hands on my heart and became as quiet as I could be. I don’t know for sure if I “let go” of worry and heartbreak over a loved one or if I “let it be” because I couldn’t find the papers I needed or the help I thought I needed or the answer to a problem that seemed too big for me to solve. Besides that, it was a hot day that exhausted me. When I  became silent, I sensed myself as a part in something that seemed like a puzzle, and I felt a pervasive, gentle, internal support. Love was on the way. And when I accepted love, let it be, I found my way.

As I enter the final phase of my life, my heart skips a beat now and then, sometimes in awe and sometimes in fear. What story remains to be written? What healing, learning, or invitation to give will fall to me to accept? I will remember my part in the mysterious puzzle and how other parts surrounded and held me. I will place my hands on my heart and listen. My heart says, “You belong.”

Theresa Walker writes and paints in Washington, D.C. She is a registered SoulCollage(r) facilitator.

Painting: The Heart Takes a Leap, acrylic on canvas, 30 in. high, 24 in length.

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