Sunday, March 26, 2017

Growing in the Valley

A paraglider jumps off Blanchard Mountain into the Skagit Valley in Washington State
"It's in the valley where growth happens." This was part of today's message at church. It's interesting how accurate an illustration it really is when you think about the natural world. The point of saying this was to say that even though pinnacle, mountain top spiritual experiences are awesome, we really grow and can help others grow too in the hard and challenging times.
Atop Oyster Dome on Blanchard Mountain 
When you think about an actual mountain top and a valley ecologically, there isn't a lot of growth that happens high on the mountain. The winds and rains and snows wash away the topsoil and leach the nutrients. As a result, the things that grow there are slow-growing and stunted, resulting in a really beautiful view for anyone who visits up there. It's inspiring and even necessary in life to be able to go somewhere to be energized and to be able to look at things from afar, but after a while, there's not much you can do there. If you were a cedar tree, you couldn't grow tall and strong. If you were a garden, you wouldn't be able to grow.
In Makaha Valley, the place I grew up in Hawaii 
But back down in the valley is where the rains washed all the nutrients and where the silt has collected all the good fertility of the mountain. It's there that you can grow fields of corn or wheat and they will thrive. It might be harder work in the valley because not only will the crops grow, so will all the weeds, but you can remember when you stood on the mountaintop imagining what those fields could look like, and all they could produce, and you are able to carry on.
Makaha Valley Stream 

Makaha Valley 
In the same way, humpback whales give birth to their babies in the safe and clear water of the pacific ocean near Hawaii. It is warm and the weather is good. Mothers can easily nurture their babies, but if they remain there long enough, the mothers will starve to death because they need food and their babies are nursing and taking much from them. There are not rich amounts of plankton and krill to feed them in those clear waters.

Mother and baby make the long, hard journey north to the waters off of Alaska where baby and mom can eat. It's colder and maybe not as beautiful as the clear blue ocean and skies of Hawaii, but it is where they can grow. The mother can teach her baby how to handle storms and avoid predators and they can look out for the other animals that live around them. And then the cycle can begin again with the next generation.

I know I have had lovely times where I seem to visibly recognize the hand of God directing the symphony of my life, but most of the time, stuff seems really normal and hard.

It is comforting to know that the ways God cares for us is directly reflected in the systems he has set in place in nature and that the more I learn about His creation, the more I will understand how he is working in my life. Let us all be reminded to draw on the inspiration gained on the mountaintop and keep up the hard mud-slogging work of living out life in the valley, because that can be really beautiful too.


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