Delight and Detachment

The necklace was an exquisite Mother-of Pearl cross, adorned with silver filigree decoration. It was a gift to me from Jeanne, a dear and cherished friend. I love her and I loved the necklace. I saved it and wore it on special occasions. I delighted in having it as my own.

I wore the much-loved necklace to a retreat that was being led by Roberta, another much loved person in my life. As we were conversing at the end of one of the sessions, she noticed the necklace. She lifted the cross, touching it in an admiring caress. I don’t really know where the urge to give it to her came from. After she walked away, I held the cross in a great possessiveness that truthfully is not a holy act.

At lunch, I told Jeanne about what had happened. She said, “Lib, this is about detachment. Are you able to detach?” There was no, “If you give it away my feelings would be hurt.” Or, “You will miss this necklace when it is gone.” Just, “What about your ability to detach?” Obviously, my ability to detach is lacking and needs some real and quick soul searching.

In our retreat, the centering word for the weekend was: Wisdom. Is it wise to love the things of the world more than we love the people with whom we share the planet? Is it wise to collect and consume and hold onto possessions so tightly we forget the delight of sharing and giving? Are my hands so tightly fisted around my stuff, that I have forgotten that it is not mine to begin with; it is first God’s.

Oh, to have eyes opened in a simple question is the way God works to keep me at the task. At lunchtime on the day of the retreat, I gave the necklace to Roberta. This is what I wrote in my journal that afternoon: Lord, God, thank you for a new delight in seeing something precious to me worn around the neck of someone who is even more precious to me. Seeing the necklace on her gives me a new perspective on its beauty, and a special joy from the observer’s seat. Thank you for giving me strength to detach and pass along a gift of love.

Wisdom asks:  What else am I possessive about? What other things have such hold on me I find detachment difficult? How much can I carry and tend? How much is enough? What is my perspective when I am up to the gills in things?

“Give me everything; give me nothing” is John Wesley’s covenant prayer. Joy in life is never “give me everything that I may stockpile treasure all unto myself.”

Detachment leads to a freeing delight and a shared joy. A beautiful possession taught me that lesson. Now there are three of us who are connected in the delight of it all. Thanks be to God. Amen.

The above blog was written after a February Retreat. The following paragraph is being written on April 16, a few days before Easter 2014.

Lectio divina at Saint Mark’s was powerful yesterday. Reflection in Psalm 31 led me to the phrase, “my times are in your hands.” I spent the hour reflecting on how much I work to manipulate time and control it. My reflection led me to words of wisdom to consider: abide, Sabbath, presence, listen. Another word comes to me this morning: Thanksgiving. Here’s why.

After lectio, Jeanne asked to meet me in the Labyrinth. She had a small bag with a yellow ribbon to give me. She told me it was a little something from the “Easter Bunny.” I did not open it until last night about eleven o’clock. It was too late to call her, and besides, I was crying too much. In the brown paper, under the white tissue, wrapped tenderly and with love was a second Mother-of Pearl Cross, exactly like the one she had given me before… exactly like the one I had given to Roberta. I was humbled and blown away in the thoughtfulness and generosity of Jeanne’s act of love.

What a magnificent lesson of God’s love lived out before my eyes. Delight and detachment are joined together where love is lived. The greater gift here is the friendship and love shared. Lord, thank you for my friend, thank you for the gifts, thank you for the lessons that call me beyond myself into trusting all that I am, and all my times into your hands.

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