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Finding Freedom in Detachment: A Daughter’s Reflection on Her Father’s 81st Birthday


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Finding Freedom in Detachment: A Daughter’s Reflection on Her Father’s 81st Birthday

Commentary by Sarah Haug | FāVS News

As I sat down to write this column, I looked at the date and realized it would have been my father’s 81st birthday. He died 13 years ago, reminding me once again how little control we have over the course of our lives. It is a stark reminder of the fact that the very idea of control is, quite frankly, laughable.

Not that we don’t continue to try. The prayer I say most often asks God to help me, “lay all my affairs in Thy hands,” and “not dwell on the unpleasant things of life.”

Truly, doing either of those things is hard at the best of times. In the Baha’i Faith, we call it “being detached,” and it is a lesson we all struggle to learn, my father maybe more than most. He had multiple bouts with cancer in the years before his death. Each time, feeling overwhelmed (understandably) by his loss of control of the big things in life, he would attempt to ratchet down even tighter on the little ones.

I suspect we all do this, to one degree or another. But I have to laugh at how often I attempt to force the world to bend to my will — even, and maybe especially, when the impossibility of it should be obvious.

What can I say? I am my father’s daughter.

For me, detachment is a lifelong quest. I don’t know if it is in everyone’s nature to lie awake worrying about everything and everyone at two in the morning. It certainly is in mine.

But in the last weeks of his life, a change came over my father. As his health worsened, suddenly he was freed from worry. He no longer feared a loss of control. He knew, at long last, that he’d never had it. At those times, he asked me to pray with him. One of his favorites was this prayer for detachment I referenced earlier. I hope you don’t mind me sharing the whole prayer. It was a comfort to him, as it has been to me for most of my life.

“O God, Refresh and gladden my spirit, purify my heart, illumine my powers. I lay all my affairs in Thy hands. Thou art my guide and my refuge. I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved; I will be a happy and joyful being. O God, I will no longer be full of anxiety, nor will I let trouble harass me. I will not dwell on the unpleasant things of life. O God, Thou art more friend to me than I am to myself. I dedicate myself to Thee, O Lord.”

The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

Sarah Haug
Sarah Haughttps://www.sarahwoodbury.com/
Although an anthropologist by training, Sarah homeschooled her four children for 20 years before beginning work as a writer. She and her husband, Dan, have been married for over 30 years and split their time between their home in Pendleton, Oregon, and Caernarfon, Wales. Sarah's columns on the Baha'i Faith represent her own views and not any official position.

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