Dropping all I’ve carried

cropped featherBy Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog. You can see more of her writing at blessedjourneyblog.com.

About a year ago I started to feel restless in my job and knew there was change coming. I could not tell you what direction I was going in, but I knew something different was on my horizon. I was still drawing a regular paycheck so the faith was particularly easy.

Well, on January 1st my job of the past five years was outsourced. I’ve walked that thin line between joy (the opening up to what’s in store for me next) and fear (how will I make my daughter’s last tuition payment?). Over the past month I have done lots of praying about what is next: Holy One, I don’t know what direction you want me to go in. I am willing but have no roadmap here. Do I lead more classes? Do I pick up some more writing/blogging clients? What do I do with these degrees, coursework, and experience?

I’ve been professionally marketing and writing for the past 25+ years and leading classes and programs for the past 15+. So how do I use my gifts now?

This is hard work. Quotes like this one on the Three Intentions website keep showing up, “When all we’ve carried has served its purpose and now we must burn it for warmth and to see what’s next.” I thought, this is where I am.

Then, when I was reading my morning meditation the other day from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening I again got the message: “Dropping all we carry…Dropping all we have constructed as imperative allows us to be born again into the simplicity of spirit that arises from unencumbered being. It is often overwhelming to imagine changing our entire way of life. Where do we begin? How do we take down a wall that took twenty-five or fifty years to erect? Breath by breath. Little death by little death. Dropping all we carry instant by instant. Trusting that what has done the carrying if freed, will carry us.”

Last summer my fiancé and I started a new plumbing company that is totally focused on service, on taking care of the customer. Well, when my main job went away we talked about me concentrating more on the company. I was thinking more of the same of what I’ve done in life: market, write, blog.

Then he suggested I come help him on a job. I thought, okay, I’ll learn something new and I know it’s a job that’s much easier with two sets of hands. But, I had an appointment later that day to meet with someone who wants me to write a blog for them. Well, the plumbing job was running a little long and I was starting to think about how I could help enough and get to my appointment when the woman called to tell me she couldn’t meet because of a family emergency. As I was talking to her on the phone the feeling that I was just where I need to be washed over me. I never guessed I’d be learning plumbing first hand, but the sense of rightness is palpable. Who knows what my days will look like in six months, a year, two years, but right now, Spirit has surprised me again and I’m “dropping all I’ve carried” for so long, “trusting that what has done the carrying if freed, will carry us.”

As a side note, I hope you can come to see Mark Nepo March 21-22 at Shalem’s Gerald May Seminar in Washington, DC. I’ve never heard him speak in person, but his writings have moved me time and again, and he’ll be sharing from his poetry and writings. I am going and hope to see you there!

8 thoughts on “Dropping all I’ve carried

  1. Stephanie, Your blog really touched me. I am in much the same place. At age 53 I feel strongly compelled to find my way out of the maze of owning a second generation insurance agency with 20 employees. I have physically felt this sense of shedding, dropping, yet that nagging fear, as I am not clear on what I am called to do. Also a kid still in college! I love this quote: “When all we’ve carried has served its purpose and now we must burn it for warmth and to see what’s next.” Thank you.

  2. Steph, Nice piece. Think often about how the route changes when one is unencumbered. Whenever the topic of “the things we carry” comes up I harken back to Tim O’Brian’s Viet Nam Classic that is another angle on the same question. Not what to let go of when you have so much to choose from, but what to take when there is so little one can carry. Surrounding you with loving thoughts as you move in new directions.

  3. Oh my goodness, how timely! (Funny how that happens.) I could have written that post myself over the past few years. Except that I found myself taking up writing and leading retreats when I put down my thirty-year environmental career. The unplanned transition allowed me to take care of my brother for five years — he has just passed away, so now it is time to let go again. I have come to realize that life is essentially one big transition with some rests in between.
    It is exciting but sad at the same time. I do not, however, anticipate becoming a plumber!
    Sounds as if you’ve found some good wisdom and mentors — thanks for sharing them. I would love to hear Nepo – I love the Awakenings book.

  4. A time to let go, a time to let God. A time to be detached and to flow and let the will of God take over..
    A time to flow where the spirit leads us in the knowledge that we are being led for a change, for a new season, for a new beginning.

  5. Been where you are and understand. Tough to let go and wait for the direction. Have faith it does come and when you look back you understand then.

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