Living River

Flowing like a river, like a river to the sea
Love flows through you, and it flows through me…

For those who don’t know, -16 degrees Fahrenheit is bone-chilling cold. Heart. Hands.  Toes. Nose. The air is tangibly different in other ways as well – sound carries like the bell of pure crystal; even distant mountains are clear and visible.

Outside, this morning, the snow looks like a sheet of satin laid out freshly over the fields. A luminosity that makes even the mundane seem magical. The trees are rigid – standing as guardians of these frozen meadows. The mountains glow.

Almost nothing moves. Smoke hovers above a chimney. An occasional car rolls by. Stillness. It is so cold that it becomes hard to concentrate on much of anything but the outside world. It is hard to be anything but fully present in this space.

The trees closest to the river are coated with a crystalline sugar – they sparkle and shine in the morning light. The frost faeries have played here, leaving their intricate lace behind as a sign for all to see.

One could almost believe it is warm outside – the sun beams down like a beacon. The sky is a robin’s egg blue. The blue of the sky is reflected in the shadows cast lightly on the shimmering white satin.

But don’t be fooled. This morning, it is -16 degrees. And it’s colder than you think.

  And, the River, living, refuses to be held back.

The River winds through this frozen landscape – flowing. Her banks are sealed off, but in the middle, a ribbon of water dances freely. Today, she lives. Breathes. Steaming almost in defiance.

She is alive and free – and will not be controlled even now. The River, veins full and running over in the Spring, smaller and bone-dry at times in the Summer, sends her steam up into the cold air. “I will not be stopped,” she says quietly with a persistence that cannot be ignored. “I will not be stopped.”

And so it is with us. We near that annual celebration of love – and the ubiquitous hearts. Our hearts pump the rivers inside of us. And the river inside each of us is magnificent. Over 60,000 miles of veins, arteries, capillaries – per person. That’s enough to encircle Earth – 2.4 times!

I have seen three times this year that River come to a halt, frozen and cold. Three times, found a new river – of tears. Three times, found a new source to drink from.

And now, another close friend is experiencing cardiac problems. As I sit here writing these words, I know that this is different – I feel it inside. I know she has a heart that cares – not only for her community, but herself as well. I know, that unlike some around me, she will fight, make the changes she needs to and come around more healthy, more strong, more aware. It is time for the healer to be healed.

And in DC today, another Living River flows – filled with friends rallying bearing images of peace, of possibility, of hope. They, too, will not be stopped. They, too, speak with a persistence that cannot be ignored for long. With them go my hopes and dreams in their movements, their gentle flow that will wear down the injustices, that will bring a freedom.

And the River, living, refuses to be held back.

– Published in Reclaiming Quarterly, Fall 2003

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