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The Valley

I nervously read this to a very special group of people at Hazelden in Naples, Florida and several of them asked me to share it with them afterward. It took me a while, but I hope it means something to you.


Years ago

I looked around me

and decided I didn’t belong

I exiled myself

to a harsh desert

where only the hostile cactus

and the venomous reptile

could survive

I trudged across the barren land

climbed towering dunes only to find

more stinging sand and blistering heat ahead

Until I found an oasis

a pristine pond

shaded by palm

promising peace

I drank from it and

although its waters were bitter

each sip brought sweet relief

I lingered here, oblivious

until I was full and realized

I had to venture out again

But as the desert took its toll

as mirages burned away before my eyes

and the scorching sun deluded my mind

I found myself craving the comfort of that oasis

And so I returned

No matter which direction I set out in

no matter how determined I was

to escape the desolation

I returned again and again

to drink from that tepid pond

and lose myself in the haze it granted me

I realized gradually

that the water was poisonous

Yet I returned

and I drank

Finally one of my brief ventures

brought me to the edge of a cliff

In the distance lay a lush valley

but directly below, a brutal drop

I longed for the waterfalls and shade of the valley

But the call of the oasis

and my fear of the fall

entrapped me

As I sat at the precipice

a beautiful bird landed beside me

It bore a message

from the people of the valley: “We see you there –

We were stuck there once too.

Come join us –

It’s lovely here!”

As I watched the bird spread its wings and fly away

I rose and returned to the oasis

but this time

I did not drink

Instead I collected fallen fronds of palm

and I wove them into wings

I looked to the sky from the cliff’s edge

and I prayed

I pushed aside my self-doubt

and I leapt

The wind caught my newly formed wings

and I soared

I hung on the breath of the earth

suspended by the power of my prayer

I glided into that promising green valley

Into the welcoming embrace of my fellow survivors

And here, my thirst is finally quenched

My soul has found peace at last

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