October 14, 2006

Rivers

This summer I was sitting on the porch of a cabin in Colorado when I noticed this framed verse on the wall:

Rivers hardly ever run in a straight line. Rivers are willing to take ten thousand meanders and enjoy every one and grow from every one. When they leave a meander, they are always more than when they entered it. When rivers meet an obstacle, they do not try to run over it. They merely go around but they always get to the other side. Rivers accept things as they are, conform to the shape they find the world in, yet nothing changes more than rivers. Rivers move even mountains into the sea. Rivers hardly ever are in a hurry yet is there anything more likely to reach the point it sets out for than a river? – James Dillet Freeman

I have always been facinated by rivers. Maybe it is because I gr

ew up on one. The only thing that stood between my house and the Ouachita River was a grass levee. Much of my boyhood was spent fishing, swiimming, and playing in and on the river. Every kind of boat from bateaus to barges plied the waters. Many times the spring floodwaters would threaten the earthen levee and thus our home, but there were never any breaches where we lived.

Maybe my fascination with water comes from being a Baptist. It is that great symbolic act of obedience from which we derive our name. I still get goosebumps when the preacher says, “Rise and walk in the newness of life.”

I think though that my fascination probably has to do with rivers as a metaphor for life. There is, as Freeman points out, the qualities of persistence, patience, acceptance, adaptability, and perseverance bound up in the idea of the river. Underneath the surface there is also a completely sustainable ecosystem filled with aquatic and insect life. It is really quite amazing. Every time I am on a river my faith is strengthened by what I see as God’s handiwork.

Roaring Fork