Grace, Gratitude, and the River

If a week passes by without my going into the river, it feels as if something is incomplete in my life...

Yesterday I "eye-balled" the river and meant to go in - even if it was for 30 minutes, but the chance did not quite materialize...

Today I was determined to go in, even though it had rained and there were very visible currents in the river...

Grace and I launched ourselves, and I paddled upstream, staying very near to the Virginia shore - which I never do - in very choppy waters and windy circumstances. While I might have previously shied away from such conditions, I felt exhilarated and the paddling seemed almost effortless...Eventually I found myself paddling upstream smack in the middle of the river...

The sky was blue, the air was crisp and the wind brisk - and I felt so alive and grateful for each moment I got to spend in the water...

I tossed this way and that and imagined what it would be like to paddle in the sea. I also thought of Ann Linnea paddling all over Lake Superior under very treacherous conditions which she documents in her book - Deep Water Passage. I made reference to this book in several blogs this past summer - before I had any idea Grace would come into my life - and that I would name my kayak the same as Ann Linnea's. I had no idea Grace would be such a gift in my life, though I now can see my blog entries were pointing in that direction...

I paddled up three quarters of a way up the first island and then meditated. Instead of simply floating, I was gently tossed and with my eyes closed it seemed as if I were being gently and lovingly massaged. In fact, I imagined that my very soul was being massaged by God through the elements of wind and water while birds of the air provided nature's music...

While in the water, I gave thanks for so many things as I reflected on teaching and subbing a number of classes in the last few days - where I invited students to create a greater opening in their bodies to express and receive gratitude. We worked at opening the shoulders so they could more deeply unveil their hearts...

I also thought of a beautiful young medical doctor - once a high school student of mine - who is battling tumors in her brain and spinal cord. She had to sideline a surgical residency. And while she never complains and accepts everything with grace and maintains hope, I am saddened that she has to suffer so. She has always been a bright light on this planet - and she shines even more brightly now through her ordeal - teaching us all who know and love her - how to live more fully.

I am grateful for her - and all who have come into my life - one way or another. I am grateful for this year full of adversity and loss - that opened the door to opportunity and countless graces and gifts. I am grateful for all the painful experiences I've had for they have taught me how to be more compassionate. I am grateful for the life I am able to live which affords me ample time to practice and commune with this river just about any time I wish.

And I am grateful for God's continued presence and protection in my life. Indeed - who could ask for anything more?

I paddled back, and realized I was a little disoriented. With all the leaves gone and my very poor sense of depth perception - the Maryland shore and the islands all blended into one - looking like one unbroken shoreline...This river I paddle in, is truly never the same river twice - and I am grateful for that as well...

"Practicing gratitude is like lighting a candle.
Once lit, it enables you to clearly see
blessings in your life
that you may not have otherwise seen."
- Amy Haysman

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