River of Life
“Anything you grab hold of on the bank breaks with the river's pressure. When you do things with your soul, the river moves through you. Freshness and deep joy are signs of the current.”
There's something special about rivers, don't you think? Something ancient and primal. We know that for as long as human beings have been upright, and maybe even before, they have preferred camping along rivers—source of fresh water, easy access for animals and for agriculture, and deeply soul connected. Rivers rise and fall with the rain and snow melt, they dry up and trickle, they make music with the rocks. They are alive. When I was a child, there were no public pools in our town. We swam in the river. I spent all day turning over rocks, discovering crawdads and watching water striders walk across the surface. Rivers have a mystical effect on me even today. They feel like home.
Coleman Barks lives on a river near Chattanooga, TN, so it doesn't surprise me that he writes poetry, and that the poet he's spent most of his professional life translating and teaching about is the 13th century Sufi mystic, Rumi. Barks writes, “I think we all have a core that's ecstatic, that knows and that looks up in wonder. We know there are marvelous moments of eternity that just happen. We know them.” That's river talk! We experience that ecstatic connection at the river's edge because we, ourselves, are a confluence of rivers—rivers of blood, of energy, of emotion. Rivers of thought run through us, rivers of fluid. Our gut curls in on itself, like the twists and turns of a river. We flow, or become obstructed. We overflow our banks, and dry to a trickle. No wonder a river feels like home.
April is poetry month. Here's a little sample of Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, to jump-start your reading:
Love has taken away all my practices
And filled me with poetry
I tried to keep quietly repeating,
No strength but yours,
But I couldn't.
I had to clap and sing.
I used to be respectable and chaste and stable,
but who can stand in this strong wind
and remember those things?
A mountain keeps an echo deep inside itself.
That's how I hold your voice.
I am scrap wood thrown in your fire,
And quickly reduced to smoke...”
There's more...so much more! Enjoy your river of life today. Let the current take you.
In the Spirit,