There’s an old saying: You can’t take it with you, which is frightening in that it applies to literally everything in life. We can try to assure ourselves that relationships “will last forever” and certain objects or places “will always be as they are,” but everything in the world, and even the world itself, is passing.
We will not be in possession of even our bodies and our minds forever. As we get older, we may begin to lose our mental faculties and our memories, so after a while, it seems as though we are returning to the state in which we were when we entered the world: to some degree, a blank slate without any memories or rational thoughts. Some consider life to be a quest for permanence, and they search for completion and perfection that cannot be found because everything fades and rots. A person’s soul is eternal; however, if life on earth is spent invested in created things, the soul can be neglected.
So about a week ago, I found myself in front of the Eucharist, that tiny (yet so large) glimpse into eternity. I considered the objective bleakness of the fact that nothing lasts forever, and I contemplated my own reluctance to stop holding onto things that I know will disappear anyway. The prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola (“Suscipe”), in which he asks God to take his memory, his understanding, and his will, went through my head and led me to my own prayer that my hands might be released from painfully clenching around things and people in the world.
In time, life will loosen our grasp on everything. It is better to suffer the agony of relinquishing now, rather than to hold on until the bitter end, when we have become so attached that the pain of letting go destroys us and our souls.