The Valley of the Shadow is not uninhabited. Long ago when its paths were still forming, its first son was born. It is the alpha male in a pack of wolves that roams The Valley.
His name is Fear.
He has rules and he must abide by them. The most important one is this: those that walk the trail through The Valley are not to be harmed on the trail. He still menaces the traveler from the edge of the forest. He and his pack. Despair, Apathy, Compromise, and Rage run with Fear attempting to drive the traveller from the path. And if we leave the path, the Pack will descend.
Our path took several turns through dark places this week. We had to wrestle administrators and bureaucracies to approve a drug to replace the one that Leo had an allergic reaction to. We were urged to pursue an avenue that failed us last time Leo got sick. The result of failure would be a bill beyond even wanting to post it online. The treatments are taking Leo’s counts down again. Getting him to eat is a Herculean task. Getting him to eat food that will sustain healthy blood counts, doubly so.
And Fear beckoned.
And this Holy Week, we came across an odd edifice, ancient and worn by use and time. A table. Its first occupant was The One who carved this trail. The first cup was filled and drained by Him. And so we sit to dine with The Pack in full view. The cup comes to us and it is full of a spirit mixed with joy and suffering. It is bitter on the tongue and sweet in the stomach. Fear howls as we touch the cup. Even The One asked if the kitchen had any different vintages.
Our cup is poured out and it’s more than we can even contain. And we drink.
I’m proud of Leo. He’s strong. He sits in the company of Fear and plays. He is unbroken by this journey. The Pack desires him and finds itself utterly powerless, tamed and domesticated puppies begging for scraps at the table built by the One who has robbed them of fang and claw.