The Valley of Baca is translated The Valley of Weeping and though I suppose it signifies a geographic place, I also think of this “valley of tears” as a soul-place.
All of us will have those circumstances and events that will bring our soul’s into this sorrowful place. Loss is a part of life none of us can avoid. Neither can we avoid the shadows that come with it. (We can try of course.) We can valiantly attempt to bury it, or outrun it, or deny it, but grief won’t be ignored forever. Eventually it will assert it’s domain.
I have grieved many times in my life. The deaths of my parents. The loss of cherished relationships. The crash of my health. That “halocaust experience” I wrote about earlier. In each journey through this valley of weeping I have to tell you, they were not all the same.
Grief is strange stuff. Not one of these trips through loss was the same. All were different.
I wonder now if that was because there were different lessons to be learned each time. Grief, like a kaliedoscope, held the same bits of broken glass each time, yet with each slight turning the light and shadows would shift and fall in different patterns, revealing beautiful and distinctly different things for my eyes view.
Sometimes these views simply arrested me. Taking me captive for a time against my will. But even in my captivity I began to learn. The value of rest; of stepping aside from the mad rush of life for a time of communion, just God and myself.
Then there were the times, when with brutal realities, grief taught valuable lessons about people. About where I should, and should not, place my trust.
Perhaps this is what the psalmist was trying to convey when he said,
“When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of springs where pools of blessing and refreshment collect after rains! They will grow constantly in strength…” [TLB]
Grief is a harsh school-master. Yes, but I eventually came to understand the real value in her harsh lessons. I began to see the depth of character birthed by pain rightly borne. Truly, sorrows are the birth pangs of a deeper, richer life. Hope for others flows from such places.
It makes me think of the lines of the poem by Robert Browning Hamilton:
I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow;
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When Sorrow walked with me.