Metaphorically, it has come to be an indication of numerous things as well. Once it was discovered (and accepted by both church and state) that the earth was round, not flat; moving, not stationary; peripheral, not central, then old superstitions and scientific ideas had to be “let go.” The church, often just a little too cozy with facile sloganism, has successfully given us the bumper sticker spirituality of “let go and let God.” Frankly, I admit to no small comfort in the idea given my penchant for hanging on too tightly to things and paying the resulting high prices. Emotionally?
Now there’s a whole other story.
This notion of “letting go” is a haunting one. It conjures the picture, shown often in action movies, of the person clinging by a finger or two over some imposing cliff to the hand of one’s would be rescuer. “Just let me go” he screams at the one straining with every sinew and fiber of strength to lift him to safety. This fellow is fully aware that the others’ strength will soon expire, and either take the both of them with it, or deny him his own escape to safety. Perhaps a great sacrifice is imminent. To let one go may preserve the lives of many.
To the one about to fall and to the one desperately clinging to their hand, however, this provides little comfort. This is a scene with no clear winners or losers. The future is always impossible to calculate even with our best knowledge, discernment and intentions. What, then, is gained by his letting go?
Possibly nothing. Possibly everything. As kitschy as it is, to let go and let God remains one of the best illustrations for the Christian spiritual life I know. Under the precarious situations herein described it makes no sense. In the sights of the timeless God whose relationship with gravity is all but secure, it makes all the sense in the world. I guess we must remember that, despite the desperation we feel at times in our earthly lives, we are not at the helm. There is another driver, another who holds us. And this One holds the hands of both the rescuer and the rescuee. They need help equally.
They just don’t know it yet.