Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Flowing water has always been a part of my life. My childhood memories include sweeping the fossilized dinosaur tracks in the shallows of the Sabinal River at Girl Scout Camp La Jita (talk about the thin current of time sliding over eternity) and later tubing, swimming, and rafting at our Ranch nearby in Utopia, Texas. Swimming in place against the clear current of the little stone bedded rapids. Feeling the cool surprise of underground springs wafting up as we swam in the sun-warmed mossy river. The giant Cypress trees and mossy limestone cliffs on the river banks were as beautiful as my beloved childhood novels of magic and enchantment, and I gave each nook and tree a fanciful name.

Sycamore Pool, public swimming pool in a dammed section of Chico Creek, Lower Bidwell Park, Chico, California, JHD

 

Then there was white water rafting on a family vacation in Colorado, canoeing and camping on the Delaware River while at summer camp Back East. My first date with my future husband, on the San Antonio River Walk. Taking our kids to picnic and swim at Guadelupe River State Park. Delighting to share the rivers with minnows and dragonflies, fish and turtles, ducks and hawks, but getting out fast when a swimming snake decided to join us. And years of biking, hiking, running, swimming, birding, and wading beside and inside the crystal clear creeks of Northern California. I love to do a “wading mikveh” in the streams, scooping my hands and lifting them up in a netilat yadayim, a ritual washing.

There is an enchantment both calming and energizing about being outdoors in Nature in a place with flowing water, something beyond words, ineffable yet powerfully healing:

There is no speech, there are no words, neither is their voice heard.

(Psalm 19:4) אֵֽין־אֹ֭מֶר וְאֵ֣ין דְּבָרִ֑ים בְּ֝לִ֗י נִשְׁמָ֥ע קוֹלָֽם

The flow of water invites contemplation. It reminds me that soft and flowing forces can gradually wear away stone (to paraphrase a story about Rabbi Akiva). It recalls the flow of life, sometimes stormy, sometimes peaceful, but ever changing and unstoppable. Sometimes I feel that life is carrying me on its currents, but at more meditative moments I feel that I am the stream bed and Life is flowing through me with its infinite experiences, its divine energy.

Upper Bidwell Park, Chico, California, sitting by stream, JHD

Featured Image, top of post: Sabinal River, Utopia, Texas, http://www.clearspringslodgingutopia.com/

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