Blog of the Month

Each month we feature a post from a blog of interest to Druids. For October, it is a recent post from Joanna van der Hoeven's blog, Down the Forest Path.

Lessons from a River

Sitting on the edge of the North River where I grew up, I feel the energies of the water’s flow, the water molecules and its soulsong moving through the landscape and through my own soul. Known for its rapids, it attracts many visitors in the spring (when its wild rush from snowmelt takes the breath away) and in the autumn (when the trees’ fiery colours blaze against the white foam). There are many places to sit amidst the rapids when the water is low enough, and that’s where most people like to sit, right in the heart of the dramatic whirl and rush of water as it crashes, engulfing the senses until you can hear nothing but water, water, water.

But it’s not here that I like to sit – I much prefer to be at the bottom of the rapids, where the drama ends and then there’s a flat stillness, where the bubbles and foam slowly pop as they moves downriver, the surface reflecting the trees and sky above. I sit on a rock and feel the rush of movement to my right, the great dramatic unfolding of the rapids. To my left is utter stillness, where the ducks and gulls are fishing. Right before me is where the two meet, slowing into stillness, settling into another current of energy. Where edges meet there is great power and learning.

I turn my head to the right and look back up to the rapids, and see my own thoughts as the rocks that the waters of my soul crash up against time and again, causing the water to explode high into the air or tumble in whirlpools, hitting one rock and then another on its way down. Those rocks are someone who still tries to upset, annoy, or undermine me and I smile to those rocks, compassion flowing though my soul and the through the landscape towards that person as I see their own personal suffering, even though I long ago decided I wouldn’t stick around for further abuse. I see my physical limitations, my body slamming against the rocks of rheumatoid arthritis and perimenopause, and the hidden rocks within my genes that may surface one day as breast cancer or high blood pressure. I smile to these rocks as well, knowing that even as I crash against them I am still moving around them, ever downriver towards the calm when there are no more rocks. I see a myriad of thoughts that my brain crashes against, creating dramas and I smile to all of these rocks, turning my head to follow the flow and see ahead of me where it begins to settle, as I settle upon my rock watching the willow leaves fall around me and into the river, a heron flying past.

I see that water is water, whether it is still or riding on great foaming crests that reach many metres into the sky. The water that roils is the same water that settles, and when all the obstacles are taken away it resolves to a beautiful and serene flat plain that reflects everything around it. Through meditation and compassion, integration with the world around me, seeing the soul behind the soul and the true nature of all existence, I too settle and reflect the world around me, a calm and peace from deep within. Though there may be more rapids ahead, I know the nature of water and of my own soul, for they are one and the same.


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