Let It Go

· Essays · , ,

by Brian Doyle

I’ll tell you a story. Four years ago I sat at the end of my bed at 3 in the morning, in tears, furious, frightened, exhausted, as drained and hopeless as I have ever been in this bruised and blessed world, at the very end of the end of my rope, and She spoke to me. I know it was Her. I have no words with which to tell you how sure I am that it was the Mother. Trust me.

Let it go, She said. 

The words were clear, unambiguous, crisp, unadorned. They appeared whole and gentle and adamant in my mind, more clearly than if they had somehow been spoken in the dark salt of the room. I have never had words delivered to me so clearly and powerfully and yet so gently and patiently, never.

Let it go.

I did all the things you would do in that situation. I sat bolt upright. I looked around me. I listened for more words. I looked out the window to see if someone was standing in the garden talking to me through the window. I wondered for a second if my wife or children had spoken in their sleep. I waited for Her to say something more. She didn’t speak again. The words hung sizzling in my mind for a long time and then faded. It’s hard to explain. It’s like they were lit and then the power slowly ebbed.

The words appeared whole and gentle and adamant in my mind, more clearly than if they had somehow been spoken in the dark salt of the room.

Let it go.

She knew how close I was to absolute utter despair, to a sort of madness, to a country in which many sweet and holy things would be broken, and She reached for me and cupped me in Her hand and spoke into the me of me and I will never forget Her voice until the day I die. I think about it every day. I hold those words close and turn them over and over and look at them in every light and from every angle.


For More Than A Year I told no one about this, not even my wife whom I love dearly and who has a heart bigger than a star, but then I told two friends, and I told them because they told me that they too had been spoken to in moments of great darkness. A clan of the con- soled, and there must be millions of us.


We say a great deal about the Mother. We speak of her in Mass, in schools, in magazines and newspapers and newsletters and bulletins, in seminaries and schools, colleges and websites, and we know nothing of Whom we speak. All we know is a handful of stories from 2,000 years ago, shreds and shards, tattered threads from what must have been even then an unimaginable fabric. Miriam, she was named, and She lived, married, Bore Him, endured, wept over His icy corpse, died. When She died Her body rose into the heavens and vanished from earthly view.

Photo by Farrukh Yonus

Photo by Farrukh Yonus

But I tell you that She spoke to me one cold wet night in western Oregon, and Her words are burned on my heart as if She reached down with a finger like a sweet razor and traced them there at 3 in the morning, and I cannot explain how Her words changed everything and how there was the first part of my life and now there is the part after She spoke to me.

Let it go.

I still have a job and kids and my mysterious wife and a bad back and a nasal mutter and too many bills, nothing’s changed outwardly, I didn’t drop everything and hit the road hunched over in mooing prayer and song, and there are still all sorts of things quietly muddled and loudly screeching in my life, but something astonishing happened to me four years ago and it changed everything. Something broke and something healed, something so deep and joyous that I cannot find words for it, hard as I try.

We say a great deal about the Mother and we know nothing of Whom we speak. That is what I want to say to you. But She knows us. Trust me when I say that I know this to be true. Whatever else you hear today, whatever else you read, whatever else happens in your life, whatever way your heart is bruised and elevated today, remember that.

Brian Doyle is an author, poet, and editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland. He is the author of Leaping: Revelations and Epiphanies and A Shimmer of Something: Lean Stories of Spiritual Substance.

From The Best Spiritual Writing 2013. Copyright © 2012 by Philip Zaleski. Reprinted by permission of Brian Doyle.

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