For this child of the desert, a full and flowing river is an awesome thing. I can still recall my absolute amazement (as a college graduate, arriving in Seoul, South Korea to teach English) at the incredible width of the Han River, which flows through the middle of the city. Standing on one bank, it’s sometimes difficult to see the other side—something I had not before believed possible for a river!
To this day, rivers maintain their fascination for me—especially mountain rivers. There is something about there being enough water for a constant flow that still amazes me. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I grew up, there was a decently large riverbed, through which flowed the Rio Grande, which translates Big River.
That river was “big” only in comparison with the dry desert landscape that surrounded it. During the spring snowmelt, the water channel could swell to reach both banks. For much of the year, however, it was reduced to a small sliver of water, wending its way along the parched riverbed. In addition, there were times when you could walk across the entire width of the river without getting your feet wet. Some of that has to do (then and now) with the implementation of water management processes upstream and the diversion of water for irrigation, but that still meant that Rio Grande was usually a misnomer.
Here in southern Arizona, I live not far from the Santa Cruz River channel, which is even more seasonal and usually dry. So much of the groundwater was pumped away by the city of Tucson that they say the river “died” seventy years ago. Any water comes mostly from summer monsoon rains, though there is a new experiment underway this year to rejuvenate a portion of the river with reclaimed and treated sewage water.
So flowing water, as I encountered it in Colorado last month, was a soothing balm to my soul. Sawmill Creek had more water flowing through it than the Santa Cruz River, despite the smaller “creek” name (it’s all relative!). The Blue River was flowing full and fast, swollen with abundant snowmelt (for which the locals are grateful after some recent years of scarce snowfall!). I took lots of photos, along with some videos, so I can revisit the sound of flowing water right here in my office when I feel the need….
And yet…like with so much of nature’s rhythms, there’s a place for flowing and a place for stillness. Here in the desert, we think of still, dry seasons and active wet seasons, when powerful rainstorms send sheets of flowing water and streams of lightning from the sky. In Colorado, there’s always abundant water. The stillness comes instead with the onset of winter, when the creeks and rivers freeze and—at least before the advent of winter sports resorts—life shut down for a season of rest and rejuvenation.
I’ve been blogging here weekly for more than six years, and I now see recurring thematic rhythms in my posts. (Which have led, of course, to the development of the category links you find listed on the right column of each post.) Rhythms and seasons are integral to my sense of the ebb and flow of life. I embrace such awareness in part because it connects me with God and creation. It further bonds me with the world around me, not just the words I edit on my computer screen!
What themes and rhythms run through your life? How do you stay connected with your Creator?