Living in the valley

This morning we were up at 5 AM (I still that that is the middle of the night rather than morning!) We had to get Joe & Maki to the airport by 6 for them to fly back to Japan.  Our 2 ½ week visit flew by for them and for us. The brutal cold of the winter weather this morning was in marked contrast to the warmth of our parting as we said goodbye to these young adults. We had done much with them in a short period of time and they had done even more sight seeing, seeing friends & family. It has been a highlight for us to have them here, and for them as a couple it has been a highlight to be in Joe’s home in Rochester.

They go back to work soon after they arrive back in Kyoto, and we have already begun resume our normal schedule of work, activities and meal preparations. (Nancy says we killed the “fatted calf” for their visit. I suspect we did in several of them, not to mention the hen, the hog and the turkey.)

It is hard to get back to the old norm once we have had such a good time.  I recall a Peanuts cartoon a while back where Charlie Brown tells Lucy that life has its ups and downs. Lucy is not pleased by that and yells “I don’t want any downs. I want ups and ups and ups!” So we expect a little bit of a let down.

Jesus while on his way to Jerusalem for the final confrontation took his inner circle of disciples – Peter, James and John – up the mountain. And while there at the top they had the experience we call Transfiguration where they saw and experienced Jesus in a new way. When it is almost time to leave to go back down the mountain Peter suggested they build a shelter in order to stay there. He does not want to go back down the mountain to life in the valley. The mountain top experience was such a high – so exhilarating. – that he doesn’t  want it to end. So often after we have had a deep religious experience we try to find ways to continue or to repeat the experience. We forget that these are not states of being as much as brief windows into what we strive for as spiritual humans beings. These are glimpses of what can be if we continue to journey.

The gift we are given in these kinds of mountain top experiences whether familial or religious is a sense of transcendence, of something larger and deeper, an awareness of our connections. And like any gift it is something for us to treasure. It also can sustain us when in the valley of normal life we do not have th vision to see the larger picture and how our life connects to the lives of others and how we are connected to God. The mountain top is not sustainable but it gives us the vision we need to successfully find our way as we journey through the valleys of life on our pilgrimage to God.

About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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