The Grace of Water

I meet the friend who wrote the poetic musings - "El Rio" that I shared in a recent blog. We go down to Riverbend Park to experience "her" river farther downstream than where I go and experience "mine..."

The river is beautiful here - it is much different in terrain. It is calm in some parts, but there are also rapids, and I wonder how Grace would navigate such waters. How would I?

We speak to a woman in the Visitor's Center about kayaking, and she invites me to consider working with a certified instructor in a program they run in the summer with novice kayakers. They need volunteers to keep the program running since they are facing severe staffing cuts. I cannot imagine doing this - I have no basic learned skills, since I have basically taught myself. Yet this woman thinks I could do it and takes my name and contact information...

My friend and I head out to walk the trail leading to the rocks where she surveys and communes with the river. We share our individual river journeys totally comforted in being understood by the other, for our experiences have often mirrored the others...

She wisely observes, that my river journey is far from over. In many ways, it is just beginning and I am just getting into it...

She marvels at the courage that it took to get into the water - it is something I hear over and over again - how brave I was. But I never considered it a courageous thing to do - or really thought about it very much. It seemed like the natural order of things, and I felt compelled - almost ordered to come into the river...

My friend and I arrive at a juncture of the trail that has been blocked off - it seems permanently - further up the trail beyond this point is where "her" rocks are located - though this spot is now barricaded. The area has been designated a sanctuary for wildlife...

My friend is dismayed - she will no longer be able to travel to this spot that has been such a faithful companion on her journey. She remembers and spontaneously repeats a mantra I had uttered a while back on the river as I paddled:

"Let go of holding on - and hold on to letting go..."

She will have to find her way anew alongside this river which she recognizes is no more hers than my river and rocks are mine...

We find a precarious spot and snake ourselves down to the river itself and listen to the currents wildly flowing at our feet, while we watch blue birds dashing about...

After a while, we start to make our way back and sit on a bench where she gives me a gift. She thanks me for all I have given and shared with her, and reads me a selection from the book - To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings, by John O'Donohue.

Months ago I shared some entries from this book in this blog, but I had never read this particular selection. I sit and I listen to her share this beautiful reading, hearing it for the first time - recalling moments - some of them heavy with emotion - echoing very personal experiences for me in some of its verses - as my eyes take in the breathtakingly beautiful expanse before me:


In Praise of Water

Let us bless the grace of water.
The imagination of the primeval ocean
Where the first forms of life stirred
And emerged to dress the vacant earth
With warm quilts of color.

The well whose liquid root worked
Through the long night of clay,
Trusting ahead of itself openings
That would yet yield to its yearning
Until at last it arises in the desire of light
To discover the pure quiver of itself
Flowing crystal clear and free
Through delighted emptiness.

The courage of a river to continue belief
In the slow fall of ground,
Always falling farther
Towards the unseen ocean.

The river does what words would love,
Keeping its appearance
By insisting on disappearance;
Its only life surrendered
To the event of pilgrimage,
Carrying the origin to the end,
Seldom pushing or straining,
Keeping itself to itself,
Everywhere all along its flow,
All at once with its sinuous mind,
An utter rhythm, never awkward,
It continues to swirl
Through all unlikeness,
With elegance:
A ceaseless traverse of presence
Soothing on each side
The stilled fields,
Sounding out its journey,
Raising up a buried music
Where the silence of time
Becomes almost audible.

Tides stirred by the eros of the moon
Draw from that permanent restlessness
Perfect waves that languidly rise
And pleat in gradual forms of aquamarine
To offer ever last tear of delight
At the altar of stillness inland.

And the rain in the night, driven
By the loneliness of the wind
To perforate the darkness,
As though some air pocket might open
To release the perfume of the lost day
And salvage some memory
From its forsaken turbulence
And drop its weight of longing
Into the earth, and anchor.

Let us bless the humility of water,
Always willing to take the shape
Of watever otherness holds it,

The buoyancy of water
Stronger than the deadening,
Downward drag of gravity,
The innocence of water,
Flowing forth, without thought
Of what awaits it,
The refreshment of water,
Dissolving the crystals of thirst.

Water: voice of grief,
Cry of love,
In the flowing tear.

Water: vehicle and idiom
Of all the inner voyaging
that keeps us alive.

Blessed be Water,
Our first mother...

Mil gracias, Veronica!

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