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I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the LORD,
Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.
For Jacob My servant’s sake, And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.
I am the LORD, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me.
Sparrows flutter, falling
And the King of Heaven sees.—Luna
he little girl trembled. Her teeth chattered as she lay curled in midnight, curled in mud. Tiny stars eddied through squeezed, tear-stained lashes. “What are you asking of me? I can’t do this, you know I can’t!” She opened her eyes to meet the gaze of smothering darkness, and choked on its bitterness. “I tried to be good,” she whimpered, clutching at her flesh as though tearing away ugliness. “You said if I did what you asked, you would love me!” But once again, she’d failed. And once again, she crumpled—alone, unwanted, ashamed, abandoned.
“Abba,” she whispered. Hot tears carved paths down her cheeks. “Abba—” Her clammy fingers wrapped around her arms in a feeble attempt to ward off sinister, sticky cold. “Where are you?” Sobs escaped her lips as her hands groped in darkness, finding nothing. Yet she knew, somehow, that she must keep going for it was a matter of life or death.
She pushed herself up, up, shuddering, out of the dank soil, and inched her foot ahead. Her way unfolded with step by agonizing step, breath by labored breath. Weariness filled her flesh. “I want my mother,” she mourned, yearning for the comfort and warmth which lay distantly in memory. “I can’t do this anymore! I must to stop now!”
But no end, it seemed. Relentless, merciless brutality compelled her forth. Heavy air’s gloom oppressed heaving lungs. The little girl grew tired, so tired—weary of flesh, of the blindness and nothingness in her eyes. Laden shoulders burned with sorrow. Why didn’t you want me! She ached all over with bruises which never faded. Her spirit grieved. I don’t know where I am! Rocks slid beneath her feet and she faltered. The little girl’s feet slipped. And without warning, she tumbled, plunging through oblivion, fragile body slamming against rocky interfaces. Her eyes closed against calamity, for surely, death became destiny. Hurry, she willed her soul, welcoming her fate. I cannot go on.
She crashed against the earth with violence. Broken whimpers crossed her lips. “At last,” she whispered, and sighed with relief. And peaceful blackness settled in.
The ground felt cool and wet. The little girl couldn’t see and pushed herself up, head throbbing with the ache of tears. She sensed warmth trickle down her leg; felt bitter sting as raw torn skin met frigid night air. “Noooo!” she screamed, distraught to find she lived, still. “Help me! You have to help me! Help me, now!”
In taunting chorale, echoes reverberated through eternity—mirrored anguish reflecting off of unknown places. “Am I too bad, even for death? Not worthy to die, and escape this shame?” Silence followed the echoing. “You can’t do this to me! You can’t!”
She shrieked and sobbed with horror and despair over the denial of immortal rest. And then she felt rage—rage that she’d been thwarted and forced to exist, still. Fueled by this, she struggled to her feet and stumbled forward, wounded limb leaving bloody trail. Extending her arms, she reached hysterically, longingly—but for what? She did not know.
Then with surprise, she noticed that she could see the rough silhouette of her hands. Shadows! She caught her breath and lifted tear-streaked face. The shadows moved gently all about, lilting and rippling with varying degrees of darkness. Eyes searched, lungs heaved with emotion as revelation pierced soul-surrounding fog. Where there is shadow, there is light!
In the distance a glimmer haunted, delicate and ethereal, obscured by timbers. “Wait!” she called, but her throat was hoarse and dry. “Wait…”
With all of her strength, the little girl dragged crippled leg behind and staggered towards the light. As she neared the wondrous luminary which lured her soul, shadows subsided enough to see the depth of the valley where she had plummeted. She convulsed and recoiled with shock. Grievous pits gaped at every turn; boulders lurched overhead, waiting to fall at will. A maze of despair, her path—twisting, circling a thousand times and more. Quicksand pulled on every side while ominous creatures slithered along the way. “Abba,” she gasped with fear. “Keep going…don’t look at it,” she said to herself, eyes grasping for any errant ray.
The air lightened and she reached the edge of the forest. And yet more forest, more valley, more paths sprang to life before her eyes. The little girl stopped, exhausted. “Where am I? I don’t know!” she cried. “I don’t know where I am going. I don’t know where I am, or what I am supposed to do.” Leg and heart throbbed in rhythmic pulse of overwhelming pain, and she collapsed to the forest floor. Motionless, broken, once again her eyes closed and spirit weakened. Perhaps now she would find rest.
A soft breeze began to brush her cheeks, as though hidden kisses blew warmth to skin. Her eyes drifted awake, and blinked in languid wonder. Trees above began to sway, undulate—graceful branches moving gently and revealing hints of violet sky. Peace, drifting soft like cashmere, settled around her body.
And there he was.
He stood before her humbly, this creature of mystery and light. His eyes glowed with tenderness. A hand extended, dream-like, and rested tenderly on broken places. As he leaned in to heal and nourish, she caught a glimpse of herself, mirrored in his eyes.
“But I was a little girl!” she gasped, her eyes searching his as reflections of womanhood mirrored forth.
“Luna.” He spoke her name as warmth and brilliance—the sun? She couldn’t tell—spilled across the sky. She couldn’t move or speak. She couldn’t articulate all that encompassed this moment.
“Who are you?” she whispered, uncertain and shy.
He took her by the hand, drew her to her feet. They stood in the midst of the forest while mysterious glimmers of life swirled about on starlit wings. Luna could see the darkness which gaped through the trees—but strangely, she didn’t feel afraid.
“I have brought you through the valley,” the humble being said to her. “I know it was hard, little one. I watched you grieve, and my heart wept.” His voice, like healing balm, caressed her restless soul, spilling into wounds. Something pressed into her hand. “This is a gift for you,” he continued, “more precious to me than all of the rubies or diamonds or emeralds in the world. Take it with you, so you remember.”
Luna uncurled her fingers to find a luminous crystal which danced on the rays of sun. Movement swirled inside chiseled facets. It seemed to be alive, this prism, suspended in her palm. “What is it?” she asked, voice soft with unworthiness. Why me? She wondered. I am such a wicked little girl—how can this be for me?
The gentle creature of mystery took both of her hands in his and clasped the jewel within. “Dear, sweet Luna,” he said, eyes searching her face with a beloved’s hope and passion. “This vial contains every tear you have ever shed. They were so precious to me; I couldn’t let them go. I caught every one, before they hit the ground.” He grew intense. “I was there, and I cried with you.”
She began to tremble—not with fright, but with the dawning of hope. He went on. “My arms longed to snatch you out of the valley, but you had to make your way through, in order to see. I want you to see! If it were not for the valley, you would not know.”
Her eyes swam with tears. “Know what?” Her mind strained to comprehend. “It was so dark there, and heavy; I couldn’t breathe, and I wanted to go away and be no more.”
He embraced her with a paradox of fierceness and tenderness which connected all of the dark, empty, aching places and replaced them with light and goodness and truth. “If it were not for the Valley of the Shadows you would not have known how much I love you.” His arms tightened protectively. “How we wanted you—oh, how you were wanted! We looked forward to the day of your birth, and celebrated in the heavens when you were brought into the world. You have such a beautiful life, a beautiful destiny. And you are good, worthy of love and wisdom and all things lovely, for I have made you so.”
Luna closed her eyes as the words washed over her soul. This is too good to be true, she wanted to say, yet hesitated because she knew somehow that it was true. After long silence and reflection she whispered, “Why me?”
“We knew that you would be faithful to the gifts we placed within you,” he enumerated with quiet joy. “You have been set apart, and filled with wisdom and strength. Your mind perceives beauty in the desolate and forsaken; you feel compassion for the lost and weary.” He leaned forward and kissed her eyes softly. “Partake of the path of life. I have made all things new.”
Her eyes still closed, Luna felt the world spin. Comfort and nourishment coursed through her frame; unexplainable joy lighted her spirit. Eyelids warm from kiss, she opened them slowly. And instantly her Way burst forth! Living light radiated from every creature; dewdrops glistened with lucent fire upon every tree and grass and baby violet which peeked shyly from the earth. Breath came sweetly as the fragrance of life, the fragrance of this radiant creature, entered her being.
She could still see the distant pits which lurked and the ominous slithering creatures, but they didn’t frighten her, for the darkness was gone. The beautiful, humble being beside her laughed softly as she inhaled with relief. “This is for you,” he said, extending his hand towards a narrow trail that glowed through the wildwood. “Walk along this path; there are many things for you here, and this is the way you must go.”
Luna felt breathless. Inklings of life stirred within—unfamiliar sensations, but heady, intoxicating. “Where does it go? What do I follow?”
The being of mystery and light stepped aside and smiled with reassurance. “I will go before you,” he said. “You will never be alone, even if you stumble on the journey. You will hear my voice saying to you: this is the way, walk in it.” He squeezed her hand and sighed deeply with jubilance. As she watched, he turned to the path and walked strong and steady until he disappeared from sight.
She stood alone, yet warmth remained, and she did not feel abandoned as before—for it was as though he’d never left. The way drew clearer and she exhaled, pressing foot into a hesitant step. As she moved towards it, Luna started in amazement. Her limp was gone! She stopped and traced her fingers down her leg; all that lingered were the edges of a scar which bore testimony to the darkness of the valley.
“Abba!” she whispered, overcome. She lifted her face in reverence and wonder. The wind undulated, a symphony of light resonating along her way. Truth infused her soul. “You are here, in this very place!”
Wind moved softly, delicate and balmy against her flesh. Words spilled into her heart. “I have always been with you, since before you were born. I have created you, I have called you by name, and you are mine.”
Her spirit exulted, and she leapt on the path with joy.
I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”