What Rivers Do -- A Reflection

Headwaters of the Sacramento River - Mount Shasta City Park

In my sermon on Sunday, which drew upon Joshua 3:7-17, I offered a quote from T.S. McMillin's book The Meaning of Rivers. The quotation below appears in the book's introduction. He notes four things Rivers do:  They move, they stay, they connect, and they separate. I invite you to read and contemplate the words below.  
Rivers move, flowing over land, through history, and among diverse groups of people, changing considerably from their source to their destination; they also stay, permanent blue lines on our maps, constant waypoints and lasting landmarks. Rivers connect—state with state, interior with exterior, one region with another, the past with the present; but they also separate nations, subcultures, and families. In short, rivers do not cede their meanings easily. [The Meaning of Rivers, p. xii].

 Having read these words, what do they say to you? How do rivers and other bodies of water function in your life?  Do you see spiritual implications present in them?  If you go to Genesis 2, you will find mention of rivers flowing out from Eden to water the earth. Moses and the people of Israel cross the Sea in Exodus and then in Joshua they cross the Jordan. It was noted in conversations this past weekend that these crossings mark both endings and beginnings. 

One phrase that stands out to me as I contemplate the quotation is the statement that as rivers move, they "chang[e] considerably from their source to their destination." How true this is. I think of the Sacramento River, which begins by flowing out of rocks in the Mount Shasta City Park and ends by flowing into San Francisco Bay. Now that river is fed by other sources, but think about the change that occurs from starting point to destination. Now think about our own lives. Do they not change drastically from point of origin to point of departure? I am not the same person I was when I was but a child. I'm not the same person I was in my 20s and I will continue to change as time goes on until at some point my earthly life comes to a conclusion. 

So, again, what do you hear or see in these words? What scriptures come to mind? What rivers will you cross in the coming days, months, and years that will lead to transforming moments?  As you consider these questions, might you ponder this statement by T.S. McMillin: "My theory is that since water is essential for life, for being, it might have something to do with meaning as well." [The Meaning of Rivers, p. xii].


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