to drink from the river

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This is as far as the light

of my understanding

has carried me:

an October morning

a canoe built by hand

a quiet current


above me the trees arc

green and golden

against a cloudy sky


below me the river responds

with perfect reflection

a hundred feet deep

a hundred feet high.


To take a cup of this river

to drink its purple and gray

its golden and green


to see

a bend in the river up ahead

and still



~Julie Cadwallader-Staub

As we have journeyed together this month on our peregrinatios — following the Divine Current, and wandering to places of resurrection — I am more aware of my desire to trust the flow of what is in front of me: to release a need to control and fix, so that I can be very present to each moment. When I feel anxious and fearful of what seems to be unfolding, and feel I must change the situation – or the person  — I am less able to see, hear, and taste the gifts of resurrection that are offered in the moment.

In Richard Rohr’s daily online reflections this week, James Finley writes about fear:

We are afraid of fear because we believe that it has the power to name who we are, and it fills us with shame. We feel ashamed that we’re going around as a fearful person, and so we pretend that we’re not afraid. We try our best to find our own way out of feeling afraid, but this is our dilemma, our stuck place, that Jesus wants us to be liberated from. But we cannot do it on our own.

Finley encourages us to find safety in scary places, when possible, for ourselves and others, but in the fear that remains beyond our control, he reminds us that:

Jesus invites us to discover that our fear is woven into God’s own life, whose life is mysteriously woven into all the scary things that can and do happen to us as human beings together on this earth. This is liberation from fear in the midst of a fearful situation.

The image of my fear woven into God’s own life — a flowing “cosmic” tapestry of Love and Life, that powerfully holds everything that might happen to me and others — helps me touch into the promise of liberation.

Looking to the example set by Jesus, Finley writes, “(Jesus) discovered directly through his presence that inexhaustible compassion and love flow through human frailty. Our practice is to become present to that infinite flow of compassion and love and bring it to bear in a tender-hearted and sincere manner in our very presence to the painful situation. We do this knowing that God is sustaining and guiding us all in unexplainable ways that are not dependent on how the painful situation might turn out.”

For me, this is what the poem above also suggests. In the midst of the exquisite beauty and diminishment of this season, in the presence of frightening and unknown places ahead, we are invited to not only follow the divine current in our little coracle boat, but also directly drink from the waters of life that sustain our journey. Drinking from our cups, we are able to enter fully into the flow of our lives, with Christ-like compassion and love. We take Life into our very bodies, and say yes. This is resurrection.

In closing I would like to share one of my favorite songs, featured as a prayer video on Joan Chittister’s website, Monasteries of the Heart. The song is titled “God is with us” sung by the Sharon Singers and has some very touching images of Orthodox nuns around the world. It reminds me of what Finley writes — that our lives are woven into God’s own life, which sustains us on our journeys.

blessings to each of you this beautiful autumn day~


3 thoughts on “to drink from the river

  1. jedwar02

    My heart is so heavy after the shooting at Temple Life synagogue yesterday. I weep for the lives lost and the place that our country is in. I am so so sad. How can we treat other human beings like this? Donna, the song you shared here is holding me up today. I still know in my gut that God is with us. Dear God break through our blindness so that we can see that you are also the God Jewish people, of Muslims, and of migrants. Be with us all now and transform our hearts.


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