Walking the Valley of the Shadow of Death

She’s been in hospice for a while, and I’ve been visiting her at least once a week for even longer.

Our goodbyes now are a little more heartfelt, a bit deeper, slightly more sad and infinitely more meaningful.

The Psalmist’s conviction of God with us rings true as we talk, and pray, and navigate this journey together through this middle space between life at its fullest and life at its end.

Navigate is a word I like to use in pastoral conversations and prayers about death or critical health concerns, because it conveys a sense that neither of us really know what the end destination of this journey is really like, but we are on the path, regardless.

Our map and compass are our convictions of God with us, even in the valley of the shadow of death.

We don’t understand it, but we fear no evil.

We don’t walk it alone, because God is with us.

When we become overwhelmed with anxiety and the sheer vastness of the unknown, we are comforted by the almighty and ever present pastoral rod and staff.

We make our peace with past enmity, the oil of anointing soothing sore and wounded places as it trickles down into our souls.

In this sacred middle space, on this mountain not shaken by earth, wind, or fire and yet quaking with the spirit of God in a gentle whisper;

At this burning bush of holy ground, I AM has found us, leads and guides us with gentle reminders that we will pass through fires and not be burned, and tread through waters and waves and not be consumed.

I AM climbs the mountain with us, whispers in the cave to us. I AM walks the valley of the shadow with us, and lovingly leads us through to the other side, our navigation at an end by a glassy sea reflecting back our epic journey from beginning to end.

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