Living the River
someone asks me about where I live, I say – first off – “I live on a river.” A look of awe with a sound of “ah” emerges on the face and from the mouth of my visitor. When people come for the first time, we often show them
through the house, and there is always the moment when they see the river for the first time, see how close it is, how present from every room on that end of the house. Invariably they stop and stand, looking as if worlds of meaning and association are flooding
Living on a river’s edge has been an experience of fresh learning for
me. When we were first looking for property, it was a lake we sought. Now I am wrapped in the river’s flow of seasons, and wouldn’t consider a lake at all, with its exposure, and its noisy toys. The river is a living presence and attracts
its own kind. We commonly see beavers, otters, mink and fox. Bears regularly swim across, in one direction or another, uninterested in our small lives. Four different species of ducks mate and give birth there every spring. Loons and Geese return, nesting
on the river’s edge, dangerously visible. Great Blue Herons glide up and down, or stand still fishing, hiding in plain sight. Hawks, Crow, Ravens, Wild Turkeys and recently Eagles soar and swoop for our eager binoculars. Songbirds too numerous to name
weave music like a garment, wrapping morning and evening.
Through all of this, we sit at the edge, knowing our place as witnesses only, or we swim in summer. The river flows, slowly or swiftly, clean and cool, especially on the hottest days. Dragon and Damsel flies adore its surface with their pretty winged
dances. There is only the sound of water; no engines can despoil the purity of this part of the river because of the bridge below, the rapids above where we are. Fish are visible; frogs and turtles testify to the river’s health.
This river is a teacher and a healer. Sitting in the swinging chair hour after hour, allowing the quiet to still my
frenzied mind and calm my rushing body, I notice first of all that the river flows one way only, constant, faithful. “There is no going back,” she whispers. The river is Life; the river is Time. the river carries and comforts, and – when
that moment comes – flows on into the lake without resistance, without holding back a drop of herself.
Living the River is all this and more. I notice again and again how opposite it is with me. I want to hold back my own flow, cling to time and schedule, force things to happen outside their own natural flow. I want time to slow down, sometimes even
to stop. Daily, the river tells me otherwise. Brings me back from pointless resistance. Living the River is the gift of flow and surrender, among teeming and irrefutable life. This is what goes on.
try this: Find a river. Sit by it as long as you can. Ask it to teach you and notice what you are given as teaching.