So, what can be said and done from a Christian perspective? For rivers lie at the heart of our faith, from the rivers of the garden of Eden, through Moses in his basket on the Nile, and Ezekiel with his vision of the river of life, to Jesus and so many others since, baptised in the Jordan and of course the vision of the river of life in Revelation. Rivers in our Christian life are places of beauty, safety, restoration and transformation as they are for all human beings in our incarnational faith. Rivers inform the metaphors of our spiritual being, as we seek God as both source and destination. Rivers take us to God as both Alpha and Omega, beginning and end. They image for us the liminal places, the crossing points and as in many cultures ultimately the crossing point between life here and life hereafter.
Perhaps the beginning of repentance, (in its truest sense as change of mind and heart towards what is life-giving and not death dealing) – can be found by meditating on our connection to rivers and seeking the good of our rivers. For what we do to the river we do to ourselves, and when we find God in the river, we find God at our depths. This makes our daily choices, to contribute to the pollution or begin to find a solution, key to our spiritual life. For the river unites us to our true selves, to each other and to God. In some sense our life is a river and finds its ending in the ocean that is God.
This week Petrina sent me this beautiful poem by Kahil Gibran which might be a place for us to begin or continue our meditation on the river that is our life:
It is said that before entering the sea
A river trembles with fear.
She looks back at the path she has traveled
From the peaks of the mountains
The long winding road crossing forests and villages.
And in front of her,
She sees an ocean so vast,
That to enter
There seems nothing more than to disappear for ever.
But there is no other way.
The river cannot go back.
Nobody can go back.
To go back is impossible in existence.
The river needs to take the risk
Of entering the ocean
Because only then will fear disappear,
Because that’s when the river will know
It’s not about disappearing into the ocean,
But of becoming the ocean.
by Penny Jones, for River Sunday, 27 September 2020