“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”
Gilbert Keith Chesterton was an English writer, philosopher, and Christian apologist, and a literary and art critic. G.K. Chesterton is also the author of one of my all-time favorite books, “The Complete Father Brown Stories.”
If you think of a mountain, the peak is way the heck up there. It can be crisp and cold. The air is thin. And mostly you’re alone, or with a very few. The perspective from the peak is wide-ranging. Peak experiences in our lives are wonderful and essential. But it makes perfect sense that the daily-grind good work is mostly all done down in the valley. Mostly done in a thousand small things we do every day. The great works of our lives.
A Poem From The Valley
Following is a poem that will be included in a collection of my poetry I am hoping to publish within this year. It is a poem from the valley. The deep and desperate valley of my long-lived divorce.
I am including it in today’s wisdom because it was a unique and transformative peak experience in the midst of a dark and hard time.
Jason and I were on a trip down in Mexico. On one of the days, we decided to hike up to a lookout point where there was a lighthouse. The day was riddled with arguments and misunderstandings, anger, hurt, and fear. And yet, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the hike.
Once I reached the top, I was awed by the expanse. The wide-open space called to a deep and wounded part in me that had forgotten how to hope. The perspective from the peak gave me a moment of clarity. I caught a glimpse of what my life might look like apart from Jason. Ease, peace, love.
Eventually, we made our way back down the hillside, back to our desperate and destitute vacation together. Down deep in that valley of the end of our marriage.
The Third World from Mexico There is a phantom Mystique To third world countries. An unpredictable beauty Deep and hidden slyly Beneath their poverties. Where you are afraid I am enticed. A seductive specter calls to me Come down this shabby path. Up the hillside I follow obediently. Expectantly. Beyond the bashful lizards. Up. Up to the highest lighthouse in the world. Well, second highest, but who is counting? And there I stand The specter and I – breathless. Full of wonder. Full of life. And what did I learn there? That your poverty calls to fear And he is a dominating force Over my spectral beauty. Fear will not be told to go Or to stay for that matter, either. But makes himself At home up on this peak Down in the city In your heart In the space between us. And now I know what Keeps men from beauty. What keeps you. We are a predictable pair down here Me and my beautiful phantom You and your poverty. There is no need for us to travel In search of third world mysteries Ever again.
If you are in the valley, or if you are up on the peak, there is grace in both places. Let’s be friends~