I stood in the forest we had walked countless times with him. The once lush green foliage had surrendered to the pending call of winter. The trees, down to their bare bones, swayed and creaked in the cold wind. The ground was frozen and leftover leaves crackled beneath my steps. The sky was a wall of gray and I felt enveloped by it. It was deserted. And the place that once was filled with life and laughter was now desolate and forlorn

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . . 

How could a life that once felt so rich and vibrant, now seem so empty and insignificant? The reality was that nothing had changed. And everything had. This was the same wooded trail, albeit a stripped down version of it. And I was the same person, admittedly, now scarred and broken. Life continues on, yet it shouldn’t. 

I will fear no evil for you are with me . . . 

Abandoned. Alone. Forsaken. 

I don’t understand loss. I ache and my heart breaks. I hold out my arms, empty-handed. I have nothing to offer. I fall to my knees where my throat closes in that familiar well of sorrow. The vast expanse of sky above me opens up with a white light. The sun pushing through. 

He is here.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me . . . 

He is leading me. From the depths of despair. Out of the trenches. He offers His hand. And in the desperate moment of defeat and anguish I take it. My soul is weary. My heart is shattered. And though beauty has crumpled to ash, this is the place I will find restoration.

Snowflakes begin to fall, silent and soundless. My heart is filled with the clarity that what once was . . . still remains. The barren ground, moments earlier hardened with dead grass and dirt, is now blanketed in a magical display of the wonder and glory of God.

Made new . . . 

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Shannon Shpak

Shannon Shpak is a writer and social media manager who is rebuilding life after loss with her 5 children. She believes in hope, perseverance and being strong . . . all legacies her son left behind.