The River

The Moose River and the Black River meet in Lyons Falls, and when they meet they  become one and create the beautiful falls. So Forest Church in Lyons Falls loves to sing river songs like “Shall We Gather at the River” , “Down by the Riverside”, “I’ve God Peace Like a River” to name a few. My favorite more recent song is called “River Running in You and Me”  by Ian MacDonald and Gordon Light it goes: 
River running in you and me
Spirit of life deep mystery
Dancing down to the holy sea, 
River run deep, River run free.
     The verses go on to talk about birth, life, death and how the flow of the river is the God -Spirit within each of us uniting, encouraging, teaching and “catching us up in its melody.”
    The Celtic Christians believed we can learn much about God from nature. They called the Bible  the small book of God’s revelation and the big book was nature or the creation. 
    Standing by the banks of a river can teach us many things. The peacefulness of a river can calm us, can remind us to breath and to be mindful. On the other hand, as the river flows it meets rocks, downed trees, sand bars, many obstacles that cause it to quicken its pace, to swirl and turn  to speed up or slow down. Too much rain or snow melt can cause it  to move with fury. 
    I don’t like obstacles, in fact I avoid them whenever possible. But there is an interesting saying: “The most beautiful stones have been tossed by the wind, washed by the water and polished to brilliancy by life’s strongest storms.” - anonymous. So raging water or obstacles that seem to block our way forward may be opportunities - or at least when we process them as opportunities they can offer some insight. The river gains strength as it goes around obstacles.   It welcomes the obstacles in its way, learns from them, changes course when needed, and becomes more. We become more in tune with the Spirit as we suffer obstacles and learn and grow from them. 
    I also like the idea of the river running free. In the Ignatian exercises, one of the first things we try to get in touch with is our inner freedom. In the first week, we ponder God’s unconditional love for us. And when we are in touch with that kind of total love and acceptance we can let fear go, and let the obstacles be a force to grow and deepen our relationship with the Source of all Life. 
    The ways of the river give us a lot to ponder. Matthew Fox ’s devotional Christian Mystics  quotes Thomas Berry as saying: “We will recover our sense of wonder and our sense of the sacred only if we appreciate the universe beyond ourselves as a revelatory experience of that numinous presence whence all things come into being. Indeed, the universe is the primary and sacred reality. We become sacred by our participation in this more sublime dimension of the world about us.”  
    May the river  continue to flow in you deep and free, and we can say with John O’Donahue in his poem Fluent: 
I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
of Its own unfolding.