May 4 is Renewal Day, a day to resume or revive what or whom we have inadvertently or mistakenly left behind.
When we think of renewal, we often think of relationships that have grown stale or have ended. It happens to all of us. We vow our marriage will remain vibrant. Sometimes it does not. We promise to stay in touch with close friends who have moved away. But over the years, we often do not. This day invites us to identify relationships that may be calling for renewal.
For some of us, this day calls us to move toward physical self-renewal, an opportunity to generate a healthier body — maybe by relinquishing that which does not serve us — less caffeine, low salt, no refined sugar, no seconds, that sort of thing. Our bodies replace themselves every seven to ten years. Actually, cells are dying and being replaced all the time, so physical renewal is a constant and never-ending process.
For me, Renewal Day is also a day to consider self-renewal beyond my physical body. This day invites me re-commit to continued transformation toward becoming who I truly am. Although this may sound like a positive and life-affirming process, I am aware that the journey I’m on is not always joyful. In fact, there have been times of renewal in my life that have been downright painful.
Mythologists, psychologists, and spiritual scholars often draw on the metaphor of rebirth in discussing such transformational processes. Following this metaphor, there can be no self-transformation or renewal without death or relinquishment.
But what, exactly, does that mean?
My spiritual teacher, Fr. Richard Rohr, explains it this way. “The psychology of the first half of life is driven by the fantasy of acquisition: gaining ego strength to deal with separation, separating from the overt domination of parents, acquiring a standing in the world. . . But then the second half of life asks of us, and ultimately demands, relinquishment — relinquishment of identification with property, roles, status, provisional identities — and the embrace of other, inwardly confirmed values.”
This kind of relinquishment is often darn hard.
My YouTube podcast guest, Shawn Askinosie, was a successful attorney who left all of that behind to find his true calling. He describes his experience of self-renewal like this:
“We can experience unbelievable transformation and an acceleration of this notion of becoming and connecting to our true self, if we’re willing to explore our own broken hearts and what it is that happened when our hearts were broken.”
He goes on…
“When I say the word broken-heartedness, people will either understand that or not. And to those people who don’t understand it, I say, please, let’s talk about a new life for you in which we can break your heart because you’re living half a life” — — Fr. Richard would add, “You’re living only the first half of your life.”
So, on this Renewal Day, I affirm that I will continue on the path toward my truest self, even if (even though?) painful relinquishment will necessarily be part of that journey.
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