It is a cozy rainy morning here in Muskoka. The G8 summit may be going on, but the mountains and issues in my life have been challenging enough. It feels like I have been in the valley a long time, wondering when the blossoms would show again, and, as Susan said recently, the Bright and Morning Star would shine wonderfully on my path again. I, like Belinda, was at Write! Canada, and, although physically and emotionally very tired, was deeply challenged and inspired by workshops, classes, and the examples of others. I had the satisfaction of helping my husband show off the first volume of his Christian historical novel, The Michmash Chronicles ,of which I was one editor and helped with the cover design, along with my older daughter Sarah, and my younger daughter Rachel turned his sketches into real illustrations. Yet even that meaningful experience was diminished by many shadows in the valley.
Most of them were about parenting concerns, helping Rachel decide her next step and wondering how to encourage independent Sarah in her loneliness. It was hard to know my role, particularly with Rachel as she sought to move from dependence to independence. It was hard also to know when I would be able to move ahead with my own life, and see God's promises to me worked out in new ways. God, of course, has been so faithful in the dark, deftly working changes in me, teaching me to let go of old ways, old roles. As I watched, and listened, and talked, and tried to help, I grew to understand my own mother so much more - recognized many struggles she must have had as she tried to help me. Because my communication with her had not been open, and we had not shared our spirituality, at the time I had missed many signs of her caring and support. But these months have humbled me and taught me more about her heart beneath the often harsh and seemingly cold exterior. And I have looked more deeply again into the dark recesses of my own heart, despite my strong faith and my open communication. Even as I was in the valley I saw things a little more from God's point of view.
It seems He speaks to us one way from the mountain tops, and another from the valleys: I usually crave the mountains, but I learn more from the valleys. I would suspect most of us would say that, however hard it is. This valley has been my own, however many of the experiences I have shared with my daughters. We each walk alone with God, and with ourselves. Yet our loneliness drives us desperately to God and to each other.
The choice Rachel has now made was borne out of relationship and depends upon it in new ways. Sarah's loneliness in her new life out west brought the right answer for both girls: the younger will give the gift of her presence to the older, as the older supports the younger as she struggles to get on her feet. When we had first looked at such an idea it seemed too dependent, too weak. But if we had listened more carefully and prayerfully in the valley, we might have bypassed some of the struggles. And yet, because the road was darker for a time, for all three of us, now the lights are brighter and the joy is sweeter.
When Sarah, at her most desperate point, at the most exquisitely last minute moment, heard from Rachel that her choice was to be with her, she cried with joy. Now I, with moist eyes and deep emotion stuck in my throat, rejoice that my girls will be together. I see again how relationships are supreme in God's eyes, and the independent strength in us can get us only so far. We truly can do nothing without Him, and without each other.
These are my lilies of the valley - more of my treasures of darkness.