Her Name is River
Originally published on greengalmidwest.com
Her name is River. She runs forever forward, never longing for the past, feeling no fear of the future. Slipping over stones, trickling between the branches of felled trees, Rolling along the undertow, She finds her way beyond barriers. With nimble fingers, she meanders into fields and meadows, Stirring up bogs and swamps, stewing pots of life. She explores with abandon, deplores a straight line, Never keeps what she no longer needs, she only Holds the Sky in her gaze, exploding sunlight on her surface, Wearing moonshine ribbons through her dark wet tresses. She is the lifeblood of the Mother, the cup of Heaven’s tears.
A river can make her presence known in many ways—as divine feminine energy, as life force, as creator and destroyer in one drop. She is creativity, spirituality, the present moment, the memory road to the muddy depths of our psyches. She is what folklorist and Jungian psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés calls Rio Abajo Rio, the River Beneath the River. She is what we know without learning it.
River is an all-but-lost connection, though, like forests, canyons, prairies and oceans. Her true value has become distant to us in our modern lives. “It’s not by accident,” writes Estés in her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, “that the pristine wilderness of our planet disappears as the understanding of our own inner wild natures fades.”
So if we take time to sit at the edge of the water, we might just remember who we really are. And in so doing, we may catch a ride on a current of hope we thought had dried up within ourselves.
Sit here for just a minute, then. Sit still. Quiet. Gaze across the water from right where you are. See? How she is always here, always in this present moment, never thinking back into the past wishing to redo a wave, never getting ahead of herself with worry over a boulder that may or may not exist in her path? She can teach us to focus on the task at hand.
Perhaps you see her in the rain, running over her banks to flood the lowlands, allowing herself the luxury of a stretch beyond her previous limitations. She is not afraid. She knows that the risk of doing something new, going somewhere unexplored, someplace seemingly outside her comfortable reach is what creates change, new life, transformation…the next necessary thing. Perhaps you, too, are ready for the next necessary thing.
Has night fallen? Is there a moon above you or is the sky so low you could bump your head on the clouds? Darkness welcomes new visitors to River’s life flow; thirsty creatures who call the nighttime home gather at her shore. If the moon shines on you, does it shift your vision? Are trees black and white, or maybe they disappear entirely? Do small eyes glow in the empty space on the opposite bank? Is there a howl on the breeze, an owl’s call from the trees? River greets them all, each one in the right place at the right time as the cycle of life-death-life floats on. River balances flood and famine, survival and surrender, knowing enough without excess or sentimentality. Does the past tug at you like a toxic romance, leaving you clinging to what is really long gone? River says, “let go. Be here now with what is.”
Know that you can always return to River until you reach the point when she never leaves you; when she flows in you, alongside you, through your dreams both sleeping and waking. When you find her without looking. When you are wildly flowing on a current of hope.