“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”
– G.K. Chesterton
A year ago today, my body quite literally “gave up.” It was similar to jumping into a swimming pool mid-January. Numb. My hair had been falling out in clumps. I was barely getting 900 calories a day. I couldn’t stop crying (about anything) and for the first time in my life, I was experiencing what I thought to be a myth (forgive me), “panic attacks.” When I did eat, everything I tried hurt my stomach. During naps I experienced seizure-like symptoms. My body was getting smaller but my belly was growing rounder . . . I looked like a little village child with worms. I’m not being funny. I’ve held them in my arms. I know exactly what they look like and my body was not far from their own.
After being led down to the valley, I can see great things. The great things Grace has done. The painful days Grace has brought. The clumps of hair on the bathroom floor and the celery juice at 5 AM. The joint pain, the restless anxiety and the day my body “gave up” . . . it’s all Grace. This Grace has many names. Sheldon Vanauken refers to it as “A Severe Mercy.” Lewis refers to it as “the terrible good.” If you have ever read or seen anything about “Narnia”, you make recall these chilling words regarding Aslan . . .
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he (Aslan) isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe)
Grace isn’t safe. But it’s good. It isn’t containable and it definitely isn’t conventional. Grace brings us down to the valley so that we might see the great things . . . for, as Dante teaches us in The Inferno, you must go down before you can go up.
I don’t eat “paleo” or “whole foods” because it’s cool. I seriously love Pop Tarts but Grace brought me to a place of emptiness. The limited food was and still is merely a shadow of that which needed to take place within. Giving up foods, surrendering my body to Another, these are only pieces of the puzzle Grace had thrown on the floor. 365 days later, I am just now starting to see the “great things” as I stoop to the floor and put pieces together.
I don’t write this blog as an attempt to convince you to eat “healthy.” I want to share what has helped heal my body because I know how isolating sickness can be, especially when you don’t know why or how you’re sick and what the name of your “sickness” is. Hopefully I can help share the “greater things” I am seeing for the first time, from the valley.