"Marilyn is over fifty years old now. She grew up on a farm where the girls were as expected to toss bales of hay and fix tractors as the boys were. Marily could outthrow and outwork any of her brothers. She did it to attract her father's attention, but it never worked. Her father only wanted sons. Her original sin was being born female.
She walked off the farm decades ago, but looking at her hardy, rough exterior, you know the farm never left her. Marilyn's ancestors were all alcoholics, including her father. She married an alcoholic and drank addictively herself for twenty-five years. Fifteen years ago, she found a shaky sobriety. She was dry and grateful but far from peaceful. Marilyn relapsed often in those first years. She'd plow ahead with her program, then be so overtaken with feelings of inadequacy, sadness, and rage she couldn't stand it. After relapsing, she persevered by continuing to work the Steps as persistently as she worked on the farm as a child. She truly was grateful; she just wasn't very peaceful. Somehow, the terrible wounds of her abiding sense of rejection, failure, and inadequacy from her youth never left her. She couldn't shake the broken-glass feeling of never having been accepted or, as far as she could tell, loved by her father.
But then the divine father she calls God came and got her.
As she talked about this experience, her tired, rough face changed. A light of innocence appeared. It was as if a child was emerging, fresh and innocent. For Marilyn, this experience came in the form of a dream. In her dream, she was a child living on the farm. She was holding one end of a rop that went over a bar above a deep well. The other end of the rope dangled above the open mouth of the well. That end of the rope held a huge, stinking, fetid mass of something, she said. The obvious thing to do was to let go of the rope, and send it far away down the well. The problem was she couldn't let go of the rope. Something beyond her control demanded she dutifully hang on to the rope. Then the most amazing thing happened. Her father, who had been dead thirty years, walked up to her, put his hand on her shoulder, and said, "It's okay. Let go of the rope, Sweetie." And she did. With tears in her eyes, Marilyn told us one of the fondest memories she had of her father. She couldn't remember the circumstances, but for whatever unfathomable reason, her father had called her Sweetie. It only happened once, but she never forgot.
No matter how big the enemy or how powerful the affliction, there is one answer greater than any obstacle that can stand against it: the connection with the God of our understanding. The God who comes and tells us, as he did with Marilyn, it's okay. Let go of the rope. Every day, every hour, one day at a time, stage by stage and step by step - let go of the rope.
I cried the first time I read this passage.
Good, healing tears.
Which reminds me that a nun once told me that tears are a form of prayer.
I cried some more when she told me that.
It's hard to hold onto a rope when it's wet with tears.