The River

by Dustin Davis

One day I discover that deep inside my heart a river flows. So deep is this river that before I stumbled upon it – quite by accident mind you – I never knew it existed. Even as this river is new to me I can tell it is an ancient river, its banks carving out the landscape long before. What a delight to find such an unexpected surprise in what I thought was the well-mapped terrain of my heart!

Time and time again I return to the river. Its beauty is at times beyond comprehension or expression, and it seems enough to simply sit along the edge and take in the dazzling sight. So much of this river still remains a mystery. I don’t know its source or to where it stretches over the horizon. And what to name it? The River of Life, the Flow, the Living Water, the Force, the One…

I decide that I should build a place to live along the shore of this river, as majestic as it is. Who wouldn’t want to live amongst such scenery? Stone by stone I build my dwelling. It is hard work! When I grow tired from my labor I walk to the river to rest, to get a drink. How refreshing! Most times I return quickly to the task at hand, but sometimes I linger. “Drink of me and never thirst again,” the river quietly whispers, lapping at the shore.

My stone house grows very large. It has more rooms than I had originally planned. It appears impressive to some, though I never seem satisfied. Its walls are too high, and it’s hard to see the river outside because the windows are too small, too few. It does offer a certain level of shelter and comfort, but then what’s the point of living so near the river, I catch myself wondering.

There are times when I leave my house to marvel at the river. “Never thirst again,” it invites me. Drawn by its cool, healing waters, I actually wade into the river. It moves swiftly around me, the current gentle but strong. What a feeling to be part of the river, to be part of something more! I swim out from the shore and am caught in the current. I begin to flail and flounder. I can’t touch the riverbed below. Already I am swept down the river away from my house. I try desperately to swim upstream, fighting the current. In a matter of mere moments I am exhausted and gasping for breath. Finally, once I reach my familiar shore and my house, I pull myself from the river and collapse on the dry ground.

At night I sit and look at the river from inside my house. It sparkles in the moonlight, the stars reflecting on the smooth surface. It was exhilarating to be swept of my feet, but startling nonetheless. I have too many questions and not enough answers it seems. Should I risk going back in? I wonder. What if I am swept away for good? What if I end up so far down the river I can’t make it back? What will happen to my house that I’ve worked so hard to build? My lovely view of the river will be lost! Do the waters turn choppy? Are there rapids? A waterfall? I realize that I can’t control the river.

“Be still,” the water calls, and I go outside. Even though I can’t see where the river flows beyond the horizon I imagine it flowing where all rivers flow, to the ocean. My deepest longing is to float along the river, not fighting, not struggling, but riding the twists and the turns and the rapids. My deepest longing is to float in that Great Ocean at the end, held aloft by the buoyancy of the loving voice that assures me, “You are mine.”

I stick my feet back in the river.

3 Replies to “The River”

  1. Thank you, Dustin. That dangerous, powerful, exhilarating, peaceful, restful, ancient, ever new river. It takes everything from us, gives everything to us. Makes we want to dive back in!

  2. Love your story. It calls to us all the time. There is nothing like water to refresh, renew and allow us to rebound. I too, would build a house by the side of a river, but always be aware it is not as peaceful as it looks. In my river of life I have been baptized, & washed clean again and again. Played in the mud at the edge of the river. Taken a tumble and floated where I should not have been, then carried back safely to the peace and calm where the center of God and I are. May you be able to navigate your river without getting lost (for very long); realizing you are only a prayer away from safety and loving saving arms.

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