Chianti & Cloves: Part 1.Valley of the Shadow

Chianti & Cloves: Part 1.Valley of the Shadow

There were weeks when I cried everyday. Sometimes I cried because I felt alone, other times I did not know why I cried. The tears would well up in my chest until they overflowed my eyes and ran down my cheeks.

I felt lost and hopeless. I didn’t know who to be or how to be.

It was the middle of my final semester of seminary—graduate school that is supposed to prepare men and women to serve as God in the church. I couldn’t remember why I was there. It was March 2004 in New Jersey, and the snow was no longer white but it still covered the dead grass.

I never asked to be there. I thought I would be the one to get married. I thought I would do something amazing to change the world, but I sat there on my couch wallowing in my lack of direction and accomplishment.

It was a Saturday night. My house was empty. My roommates were out of town. I was trying to study but I just kept crying. I picked up my guitar trying to sooth myself, but it didn’t work. I groaned out loud and said, “God do something!"

I sat and starred at nothing. For the past two days I felt like I was under attack. My thoughts were so dark that I knew they were not my own thoughts.

My eyes focused on a light bulb sitting on a bookshelf and saw myself pick it up and break it on my arm. Blood gushed out of my wrist and on to the wooden floor. Then the phone rang. I shuddered, brought back to reality, and answered the phone.

It was a number I did not know. Anna, a friend from church called to apologize for something. I thanked her for calling and caring. Then she asked me if I was okay. I paused, not sure if I could answer her.

Then I said, “I’m having a rough time.”

There was no response.

She broke the silence and told me about a time when she was so depressed that she thought about killing herself. All I said was that I was having a rough time.

She told me that God was with me and that God had plans for me and had gifted me. Then she prayed for me, out loud over the phone. As she prayed I started breathing more deeply. “Amen,” she said.

“I’ll see you in the morning?”

“Yes,” I replied.

I got in bed and read for my homework. When I turned off my light I thought, this must be what “valley of the shadow of death” feels like.

The above is the first part of a series on my spiritual journey that I started writing in 2007, it takes place in the course of one long and dark 24hour period and reflects on memories and conversations that get me through. My hope is that it will jog your memory this winter about your own spiritual journey...

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