A Brief Vale(ntine) Workshop

When I started this blog, I had just gotten married, just moved back to my second hometown, and was already in deep with the struggle to reconcile identities, rather than doing as the world would prefer, and sloughing one off.

The work was as exhausting as it was important. It didn’t take long from lifting the veil for this Vale to need lifting. At the same time, I knew I wasn’t the only one out there feeling this way. So I started to write. I wrote toward the hope for my own healing, and toward the hope that somehow, somewhere, my voice might reach someone who needed to know they weren’t alone either.

I wrote about what I saw, I wrote about what I felt, and, slowly, started to write about these things with more bravery and complexity, doing better justice to life in all its beautiful messes, and yes, also its successes. I began to address the challenging and sometimes competing needs to adapt, acculturate and live freely in this new season of life, knowing full well that my experience in one small corner of the world was part of a much larger, necessary conversation I was preparing to have outside this space.

It’s been a hell of a ride.

At the end of the first year, I concluded that lots of things were in fact possible, not the least of which was finding happiness again. I just had to own that it was missing and then doggedly pursue it.

And, years later, find happiness I did. Alongside countless reminders that I am fundamentally a person called to love. A person called to search for and amplify it everywhere I go.

In remembering that about myself, my fear of answering that call – in more places and in more ways than I might have let myself before – started to fade. Life was bright once again. And this space, true to its name, did what I needed it to do all along. It allowed me to “lift the vale,” starting with the littles, inspiring my move to bigger things, and now, as something I’ll carry forward in the next climb.

Having reached this critical juncture, new words here will be limited. Perhaps another post or two, just enough to close this chapter with equal parts heart and intentionality. Thank you, all, for joining and supporting me thus far.

And what after? The Work is never done. It’s high time I really got started.

May God grant that you be well on your journey forward.

Faithfully yours, in strength, in hope, in love.

Ryan Vale McGonigle

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