For Mother’s Day, my dear family takes me to Ricketts Glen State Park so we can hike and view amazing waterfalls.
I explain to my daughters that a “glen” is a narrow valley. The whole drive to the park, I think about how we’re going down into a deep, dark, narrow valley. I think of the “valley of the shadow of death” from Psalm 23.
How different from last summer when I was hiking in the highest possible Alpine Tundra in the Rocky Mountains. I’ve been very high up in this world, but today, I’m going to a valley instead. I think about the spiritual metaphor of “mountaintop experiences (all joy and peace and beauty) as opposed to the “dark valley” experiences of hard times (despair and hopelessness and confusion).
As we hike to see the magnificent waterfalls (click for a virtual tour provided by Pennsylvania State Parks), I think about how the valley experiences allow for a particularly important phenomenon:
You experience power there.
I stand at the base of those waterfalls, and I know that it’s a much different experience from when you’re at the top looking down. At the base, you know the power. You feel the rumble, the wind, and the spray of water. You see the way the water cuts right into the heart of rock.
It cuts even the rock.
You’re put in your place; you’re humbled and a little scared.
I would describe the early years of motherhood as the lowest valley of my life. Yet here, I knew God’s power. I was right where I needed to be for God to cut and smooth me into something beautiful.
There are some things you can only learn deep in the dark, narrow valley.