Chuck talks to me about water as I look over his shoulder at a leaning drawing of Jesus laughing, a drawing I’ll admit I don’t really like all that much.
He tells me about a life of faithfulness that he calls the deep part of the river, as opposed to the whitewater, the fray, the froth on the edges that falls as quickly as it rises.
This deep, this middle? It is slower. It is less exciting, and often less emotional than the “spiritual highs” we were instructed to cling to at the end of a week at church camp, the ones we still think we should be riding even now.
It is not the stuff we like to write about, and especially not talk about–the humdrum, the rhythms that some days seem lifeless, the spaces between each extraordinary revelation, the labors of love instead of the throes.
But it is the strongest part, he says, It is the current–what moves everything else along.
The giant fish plaqued on his wall tells me he knows something about rivers, and the grace in his eyes tells me he knows something about faith. Well, maybe the priest’s collar does that, too. I pay attention.
Saints get this, he says, and they have for a long time. He lists a few, and I nod, eyes wide, when he names Teresa of Avila. I have been reading her. It is the deep part of the river that carries us through what she would call “spiritual dryness,” which everyone, everyone, experiences from time to time. I think that is maybe why I like her so much.
She, whom we call saint, tells us that the life of faith, prayer in particular, is hard work. It is mostly toting water back and forth from the well, building aqueducts rather than drinking from natural springs. After a while, the distance to the well feels shorter, and some days you might find a natural fountain of fresh water at your feet. But often, even for mystics, this is not the case.
Instead, much of our time is spent slowly carving a small trench from well to doorstep by foot, much like the literal path that scientists tell us new habits etch in our brains.
I’m on a kayak midday, months later, with these wet images ricocheting around my head, as I take a break from paddling, Texas sun blazing.
I love Teresa, I think, but she is one chica with mixed metaphors. And I’m not helping much with this river business.
But it is the river I’m on that made me think of Chuck, then Teresa. It is the fact that I am leaning back in my little boat, moved only by that current, thinking of the One who forms the water in the first place.
Suddenly I realize we’ve been out in the sun for hours now. I’m really, really thirsty, and I decide to announce this, loudly, to anyone who will listen.
Sometimes you find that you have essentially written the same post twice.
Ok, I don’t actually know if that is normal, but that is basically what happened to me today.
Pardon my repetition, but check out this post from March. Perhaps in the cracks between the overlap of scatterbrained prose, you’ll find something new.