Detours Are Temporary

by | May 24, 2004 | Provision, Trials

In Death Valley, California, there is a place known as Dante’s View. From there you can look down to the lowest spot in the United States, a depression in the earth 200 feet below sea level called Bad Water. But you can also look up to the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney, which rises to a height of 14,500 feet.

Our lives also bring us to such places – where we can either journey into the depths of despair and depression or rise to incredible heights – depending on the direction we head. Yet, the mountaintop may not be where we want to reside, either. In a letter to a suicidal person, Al Hillman shared some exquisite wisdom:

“Sheila,” he wrote, “I know all too well the battle you are engaged in. You see, I spent many years in the deep, dark valleys of mental illness. Most (people) want to be on the mountaintop. I don’t. I have climbed mountains up to 17,000 feet. Not a pleasant place to be. Bitterly cold, roaring winds, nothing grows there. Just snow, ice and rocks. Very uncomfortable. Even the view is dismal, for all one can see is clouds.

“I have also been in the deep, dark valleys where the walls are so steep that nothing grows; there is complete darkness and one is all alone. A terrifying place to be.

“I enjoy being in the valley (with) the green pastures and (where) the streams are gentle and calm..”

Naturally, there are often valid medical reasons for mood shifts and depression. And it may require all of our resources to climb back out of our private “Bad Water”: support from the medical community, friends and family, as well as our spiritual resources. We are not alone.

But I also like the counsel of Abraham Lincoln, who was similarly afflicted. In a letter to a friend, he once wrote: “You cannot now believe that you will ever feel better. But this is not true. You are sure to be happy again. Knowing this, truly believing it, will make you less miserable now.”

It is true that few of us seem to stay in that peaceful valley for long. But, as someone aptly said, “The truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on detour.” Detours, after all, are temporary.

Steve Goodier Life Support


Detours Are Temporary