I cling to the sheer face of the rock with bleeding fingers. My fingernails are shredded. My head pounds. My toes, pressed hard against the cliff, are numb, and my back aches from the tug of a too-heavy pack. But I must go on.
"Let go!" beckons a voice from far below.
Who are they kidding? Even though I'm exhausted, I become angry. Leave me
alone, I think. I can make it. After all, I'm a strong, capable person. I've climbed mountains before. Besides, it's a long way down. I have to hold on, even if I don't advance. Letting go is far too risky.
But, holding on is far too hard. "Let go!" another voice calls. That one sounds vaguely familiar. Now I feel slightly trusting. Am I going insane? I think seriously of letting go, but won't I look foolish spinning uncontrollably through the air? What if I lose my backpack and crash painfully onto the rocks below? What if I die?
"Let go!" Don't they ever give up? "Have faith!"
Faith? What does faith have to do with anything? Doesn't God help those who help themselves? Doesn't He want me do my best? Why, letting go would be quitting, admitting I'm a failure. Besides, haven't I told God many times I could do it? Obviously faith has got me nowhere. Maybe I just don't have enough faith in myself. I have to do this on my own, don't I?
I exert all my power but I still can't budge; in fact, now I'm beginning to slip backward. My fingers are grated clear to the bone. The sun glares; sweat stings my eyes and blinds me. My load is so heavy I feel sure my back will break.
"God, where are you?"
I cry, "Help me!"
I let go.
Down, down, down I hurtle. This is it, I think. I knew I should have held on. The heavy backpack comes loose - what a relief! But soon I'll hit and it will all be over.
"Good job," I hear someone say. I feel hands touching me.
"That took courage." More hands. Hands everywhere, holding me, cushioning my fall. Shakily I stand up. I'm bruised, my hands and knees are bloody, and my head still aches. But my vision is clearing and I look around. Before me I see a mass of smiling faces covered with scars. Some of them I recognize.
"What are you doing here?" I ask them.
"We came to catch you," they answer. With their hands they support me because I'm still wobbly.
"How did you get here?" I ask.
"We let go!" they respond.
I notice that the air smells sweet. A soft, cool breeze soothes my skin, and a bird chirps in one of the lush green trees at the base of the cliff. A colorful array of wild flowers decorates a nearby meadow. Everything is so peaceful.
"Thank you!" I say appreciatively to my smiling rescuers. "You're a brave bunch."
"You're brave too," they tell me. "Come join us."
"What do I need to do?" I ask. I'm feeling better by the second.
"Look up," they say in unison, surrounding me protectively.
I look up, and high above, clinging desperately to the face of the cliff, is another lone climber bearing a heavy load.
"Help me!" the terrified climber wails.
"Let go!" I call to him. "We're here!"
Marsha Z., San Anselmo, CA. Marsha has lived in California since 1968. She
grew up in Tennessee. She likes to walk, read, write and spend time with friends
and with her little parrot, Buzzy. Marsha has been sober since May 14, 2002. She
loves history and studying the Bible. In 1999, Marsha published a book on the
Reconstruction Era after the Civil War, for middle school children.
or Articles & Stories