Walking in the valley

Sunday, September 30, 2001

Sometime in everyone's life I think he or she forms some kind of overall mental picture of how things eventually work out. A durable picture for me was formed in long ago grade school geography class.

In a recent protracted hospital stay while I was walking in "The Valley" I was eventually jarred back, in the most harsh and abrupt manner, to the world of reality, by turning on the bedside TV to see what was going on in New York and Washington D.C. There was disbelief, heart numbing sorrow as other soul bruising jumbled emotions akin to a monument of twisted steel and concrete, fires and suffocating air. A way of life suddenly seemed to end -- blown away as effortlessly as a wind touching the seed head of a mature dandelion. I thought, "I'm still in 'The Valley'."

That word, valley, kept recurring in my thoughts in subsequent hours and days. Eventually it was the key that renewed my picture of how things eventually, preordained, work out.

The geography teacher pulled down one of the series of wall maps, showing the mountains and valleys of our dear nation. She explained that we were to understand the laws of watershed. "All the rain and melted snow that falls on any of our land, mountains or lowlands eventually gather in the valley and drain away in the creeks and rivers to the sea."

We understood that the water, on its journey, will meet with many obstacles -- boulders, changed land elevation, log jams, sand bars, etc. But the water inevitably will make its way around these obstructions. It may have to back up, make many little curious whirlpools, eddies and more splashes. But always it makes its way around and goes on down the valley streams.

"In what valley are we living?" asked the teacher. Every hand shot up.

"The St. Francis River Valley." We were very familiar with the quick watershed from the ring rosy of surrounding mountains, the quick, over-the-banks swelling of the creeks and river.

So, like many people of multiple years I have met a huge, unyielding boulder. Splash! Bang! Rain! Go around!

The way around is circuitous, but that picture of how the valley waters move on is durable and encouraging, especially if one continues to look for "Joy Along the Way."


Jean Bell Mosley is an author and longtime resident of Cape Girardeau.

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