Practical, Therapeutic, Theological Thought

by Penrod

Perhaps you have noticed a pianist sit for a few moments collecting herself or himself before going into action—before hitting the notes. Once started, there is no turning back. I wonder whether those are moments of letting go or times of high concentration during which the pianist mentally reviews the music. I think it is the former because there is not enough time for a complete mental review. The performer must proceed trusting memory and practice.

As a rule, religion highly recommends letting go. It encourages a person to realize that there is more to depend upon, more that is needed than just oneself. This conviction has been recommended, discussed and put into practice by Buddhists, for example.

Most religious forms slow us down and they appear to have that as their proper goal. Forms such as prayer, worship services, and the like stand in the way of the other businesses of life. They are not interested in the pressure I am feeling at the moment or in what I want to get done. I may refuse to let go and, for example, write or read something during a worship service, but my options are limited. I have to sit there and I can’t make much noise. Drawing, writing, day dreaming, and thinking pretty much exhaust the options. Activities like whispering, telling jokes, and giggling are tough to sustain.

These forms, it seems, are designed to make people, to make me, stop. They are interruptions. Professionals who address concerns of mental and emotional health stress the value of relaxation and letting go. There is a book, The Relaxation Response, which explains the importance of a ten-to-fifteen minute break each day and encourages its practice. Underlying this is a recognition that there is something more than the conscious, knowing "I." With this realization comes awareness of the magnitude of what has been provided to make it possible for me to be alive at this moment.

It is worthwhile to examine one’s resistance to letting go. What are the motivations underlying my relentless agenda? Fear? Rebellion? Interest? Passion? Clearly there are reasons for not letting go and times that letting go may be irresponsible. But for most of us this is not the hazard. Inability to let go is the more likely malady. That’s why a set time to pray, a time to worship, a time to say a mantra or the Lord’s Prayer, a time to meditate—a time we set and keep is extremely valuable, especially in our age.

Penrod says that, in thinking about him, one should think first of Booth Tarkington's Penrod, the boy writer, and then of the mighty pen of Martin Luther with its power like unto the rod of Aaron.

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