FREEDOM FRIDAY: The receptive and powerful "Spirit of the Valley"
You can listen to the podcast version of this episode on Apple, Spotify, or this audio player:
When one climbs up to a perch here in Sedona, her or she can see the line of green trees cutting through the valley floor amidst the red and brown hues of the high desert.
Like a green “S” it snakes in under the roads, around the hills, and past neighborhoods.
This greenbelt is the flora and fauna that surrounds the banks of Oak Creek — a cool, clear creek formed from the mountain springs of Oak Creek Canyon, flowing from the higher altitudes of Flagstaff down into muddy waters of the Verde River.
Near the mouth of the creek, there are springs where locals gather to fill their jugs with water to provide clean water to their families.
As the creek snakes through town, it provides an incredible backdrop to the hotels, resorts, and homes.
As it passes the iconic Cathedral Rock, it provides a place for people to meditate, pray, and swim — with the energy vortex providing a healing sanctuary for humans and animals alike. It’s there that you can often find couples tying the knot of matrimony as the clear water provides a mirror reflection of the Red Rock summits.
Further down, in the otherwise dry rocks of Cornville, the creek provides some hidden canyons for families to escape the desert heat of the summer.
Not far from here, the creek also provides enough coolness and fertile soil to grow fine wines near its banks — helping fuel a burgeoning wine industry that provides a boost to the local economy.
Though the Red Rock cliffs and peaks are the shoulders of our town, and the reason people come here from across the world…
It is Oak Creek that provides our spine.
While the creek gives back in the way of fertility, coolness, and hydration, its strength lies in its humility.
Yes, it’s humility.
While it’s easy to think the “strength” of this area comes from the Red Rocks and peaks…
It is those rocks and peaks who owe their very existence to what lies in the bottom of the valley.
The creek begins in Oak Creek Canyon at the very bottom of which lies a fault line. It was the ancient activity of this fault that gave birth to the mountains and peaks.
Today, the strength and beauty and provisions of the creek that lies right above that fault line is due to the receptivity — the very humility — of the valley.
Around 2500 years ago, Lao-Tzu invited us in the Tao Te Ching to “hold to the humility and be the valley of the world.”
Translator Derek Lin explains of this passage…
“We know what it is like to be highly regarded, but we hold to the principle of humility. We become the valley to the world—we are open and receptive to the many diverse perspectives that people have.”
Later in the Tao, Lao-Tzu writes of the “spirit of the valley,” which Lin explains is...
“A powerful symbol for Yin, the universal female principle.”
The Yin, of course, is one polarity of the Yin/Yang.
While some might think the Yin/Yang represents opposites, it actually represents polarities.
The Yin is the “feminine” and represents the “pull energy.”
The Yang is the “masculine” and represents the “push energy.”
(Yes, each represents much more, but for the purposes of this article, I am simplifying.)
In our hustle-and-grind society, it’s easy to be “over-yanged.” We believe we constantly have to be “pushing” for what we want to achieve.
As Lao-Tzu taught — and as valleys such as Oak Creek teach us — the Yin energy is not to be ignored.
It was the volcanic Yang energy which formed the mountains, which created the Oak Creek Valley.
It is the receptive and humble Yin energy which allows the rains and snow up on the peaks to flow into the valley, providing it with fertile energy.
And it is the Yang energy which arises from the fertile energy to give life to the greenbelt of the valley and the water which provides sustenance for local wildlife and crops and fun for local families.
The valley and the creek represent the prosperous cycle of push AND pull — giving AND receiving.
Unfortunately, it’s a lesson that is often lost in our society, which favors the push.
As documentarian/author and Eastern philosopher Jason Gregory told me on my podcast recently, “We live in a Yin-Deficient Society.”
What he means is that we’re always pushing, always striving, always grasping.
And when we grasp, our fists are closed tightly.
When they’re closed tightly, they’re unable to be open to receive.
Too much Yang, and nature is out of balance.
When that happens, the creek stops flowing.
Does your creek sometimes feel dry?
Worn out from the constant pushing?
If so, balancing out your Yang with the receptive, humble power of Yin...
Might be just what nature ordered.
P.S. The men who attend my Freedom in the Red Rocks Mens' Retreat (May 14-19) will get to hike along the banks and soak in the waters of Oak Creek. Want to learn more? Let's schedule a call.