In my travels this summer, I crossed many shallow streams and deep rivers and realized I needed to recognize the importance of each.
The shallow streams are narrow and full of activity. The water splashes and meanders around the rocks and debris in the streams causing excitement and wonderful sounds. Eventually, the water in the stream reaches the deeper river it feeds, and suddenly the scene is noticably different. The chaos and confusion that brings so much life in the shallow stream are hushed as the larger, deeper body of water moves together toward an even deeper sea.
When I think about my life as an individual and our common life as a community, I see the need for both the shallow stream and deep river. There are the day-to-day concerns of life that sometimes seem to stand in our way like rocks and debris, against which we often run, splash, and make noise. There are bills to pay, jobs to do, carpools and errands to run. At times the activity is exciting, but it can be overwhelming and distracting as well. Life in the stream is essential, but it is ultimately leading us beyond the narrow, chaotic place to someplace else. The bills, jobs, and obligations allow us to reach the place where we can look beyond the day-to-day and swim in deeper waters. As an individual, this is where I see beyond to my life’s purpose and what in some circles is referred to as “the kingdom of God.” In community life, it is where we move beyond rent, cleaning supplies, and websites to the meaning of our being together in the first place.
I sometimes spend too much time in the stream and forget about the deeper river. I also sometimes dwell too long in the deep river and neglect the stream that feeds it. Like so many contrasts, the lesson is in appreciating both and balancing what each has to offer.
May we all learn to navigate the stream so that we may reach the deeper river.