Transformation requires loss. Transformative change simply cannot occur unless something is left behind—whether it’s an old way of relating to the world, or beloved friends, or a hometown, or a cherished home.

But leaving the old things behind does not mean closing our hearts to them—such a thing isn’t really possible, even though it might seem more desirable than experiencing loss.

What’s required is not only a turning away from something and a turning toward something else, but also a willingness to feel both in their entirety and to be truly changed by the experience.

We grieve not so much to “get over” something but rather to let ourselves be softened by the experience. For it is through this process of opening and softening that we are truly transformed.

Writing about the experience of the death of a loved one, Anne Lamott said: “It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

So it is with any big loss: Either we learn to dance with the limp or we stop dancing altogether. And it is only through this kind of dancing that we are transformed.

As we go through changes in our lives—whether they are personal changes or changes in our church community—there will inevitably be feelings of loss. Even when we are wildly enthusiastic about what we are doing and where we are headed, we are bound to experience loss.

May we be open to loss as a means for fully experiencing our lives and for forever turning toward what is next.

–Rev. Jim Magaw