These winter months have been quite dreary with clouds and rain. Oh, I have missed the sunshine! In addition, the hills that surround us keep the sun from view until it is quite high above the horizon, so I don’t see the early sunrise when I walk each morning. This photo was taken on a chilly morning when the sun was just beginning to peek over the hills behind me. I was walking in the shadow of the valley, but looking ahead, I could see that I would soon reach the sunshine! The glorious warmth and cheer of bright sunlight would soon flood over me.
As people of faith, we know that the sunshine of resurrection is always before us. We experience that resurrection daily, as the healing light of God turns our tears of sorrow into tears of joy, our trials into triumphs, and our brokenness into wholeness. We have seen how God has transformed the death, loss, pain or guilt of our past and lovingly brought us to new life. We know we will experience a full resurrection when we pass from this earthly life into a new life of great joy and light. The light of resurrection- experienced, witnessed, and anticipated- brings us our hope and joy and peace.
But there are times when even people of faith find themselves walking in “the shadow of the valley,” where the light and life of resurrection seem so very far away. With downcast spirits they trudge though the cold and gloomy darkness, unable to raise their eyes to see the radiant light that will one day bring new life. Caring friends, eager to make everything better, may be tempted to lift their chins, point out the light of resurrection that lies ahead, and assure them they will soon be there. It is in vain; the valley is too dark, the light is too distant, to bring any healing or hope.
Those in the depths of grief or despair need a different type of light for their journey. They need us to serve as a small light in the valley. They need us to bring this light to meet them where they are. This light isn’t the brilliant light of complete resurrection that will one day come. But it is a lamp to guide them ever closer to that day. Being the light of Christ in the valley is to offer the gentle light of comfort and compassion, of silence and stillness, of tenderness and tears, of loving and listening, of grace and guidance. Being the light of Christ in the valley is to bring our little lamp of love to those who are lost in the valley, and walk with them, one step at a time, until we reach that splendid and glorious light, together.