I’m thinking about valleys. I’ve started sketching one.
Visits to my doctor and to group therapy are part of my current “norm” as I journey through treatment for depression. So, I’m thinking about valleys.
Valleys can be dark spaces. The sun doesn’t shine long in a valley’s depth. Mountains rising alongside are too steep to climb. Trees growing from cliffs appear foreboding from a valley’s floor. Rocks crash down, creating danger and obstacles to be navigated.
Deep valleys can’t be circumvented, climbed out of, or bridged over. I’ve tried. But I slip and land on my rear end. Which puts me right back in the valley!
Psalm-writer David knew the valley. He named it, “the valley of the shadow of death”. (Psalm 23)
Yes, valleys are shadowy places. Shadows of fear, doubt, shame, regret, and grief blend together to form a shadow of death. The shadow of which David said, “I will fear no evil”.
Shadows teach courage to those willing to learn. Part of the lesson comes from refusing to turn from the tears that flow.
Tears are cleansing. Washing away the old. Nurturing life and growth. Sometimes coming in a flood just like the river rushing through the valley.
Tears and grieving move us forward to discover hope. Even if that hope is first recognized in faith rather than in feeling.
What a rich word. Reminding us that the steep sides, the craggy rocks, and the lurking shadows do come to an end. This valley will open; the river widen and grow calm and peaceful. As David spoke, “He leads me beside still waters”.
Hope leads us through and eventually away from each valley. And the further we travel, the more the valley shrinks behind us.
We long for those still waters. But first comes the valley. So I still sense the closeness of my valley’s walls, still feel the shadow’s chill, continue to hear the water’s torrent. But I look forward.
I look forward with hope.