Surrender has never been my favorite spiritual practice. When I was young I learned to depend on myself and to work toward my goals. I valued concentration and commitment. I understood the need to delay gratification and to live without an emphasis on material goods. What was important was inside me—my intentions and my self-discipline.
Now that I am not young, I still don’t lean toward surrender. To one part of my mind, surrender doesn’t seem responsible. But I have seen the limits of control. I’ve noticed over and over that life doesn’t proceed directly and smoothly and that conscious intention often proves irrelevant. I understand the theory behind “Let go and let God.” And, truly, I appreciate it. In theory. However, there remains a “but. . .”
So, imagine, if you will, what it’s like for me to sit with my client who can’t use her hands effectively and can’t speak her words clearly. Some days she can use her heels to push herself up in her bed but she can’t ever roll over. She is the picture of Passivity although she resists surrender, as do I.
I see the futility of her efforts and I encourage her to focus on living one second at a time, practicing presence. We consider living as a Spiritual Warrior but she reminds me that this is a momentary challenge. I nod in agreement. But I realize that I have no sense of what living consciously in the moment feels like at the level she’s experiencing it.
She talks about This and then about That and then back to This for a few moments. Her frustration builds. Tears come to her eyes as she feels the hopelessness of her position. If she thinks about her future, she doesn’t see anything welcoming. When she remembers her past, she longs for days she could run.
“But I’m in a different time now.” She pulls herself back from her daydreams and looks at something over my head. She stops talking for several minutes. I don’t know what’s thinking about but I can sense a shift in the room. I pay attention and wait for her to come back.
The muscles in her forehead relax. Her shoulders droop. Her mouth is still. Then she looks at me directly and in a quiet voice she says, “The answer is already here for me. I don’t have to figure anything out.” She sighs and she smiles.
And I witness surrender.
Her surrender is beautiful and powerful. And wise. She has struggled and thought and talked and hoped and imagined and wept. And on the other side of all that, there is nothing more to do. But also, nothing to fear and nothing to change. Without intellectually choosing surrender, she moved naturally into a state of surrender when she exhausted her resistance. Life carried her and she cooperated.
My client’s experience of surrender is the opposite of defeat. She aligned with the most deeply powerful part of her and said, “Yes.” She moved through obfuscating intellectual and emotional layers until she was clear and peaceful. At that point surrender is a joy.   


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