My husband and I along with some family members went on a weekend trip to attend a wedding, and we crossed several bridges, some that crossed big rivers like the Mississippi, and some small streams. Since I have started a novel with a river symbol, I have been snapping photos of rivers and thinking about rivers.
There is just something about a body of water. A small creek runs across the property where I was raised, and as a child, I spent much time playing there. With no houses along the creek, the water was clear and unpolluted and my family and I thought nothing of getting a drink from it. I’ve always heard that a stream purifies itself when it runs a specified number of feet over rocks and sand. I don’t know if that is true, but now with so many pollutants entering the stream from homes that have been built along it, I would not consider it pure. How things change!
Any body of water carries many things along with it, some good and some bad. Creatures that live in the water or near the water use the water for drinking and bathing, and excretion from animals and fish flows in the water. This makes the water a rich source of fertilizer for vegetation that grows on the banks of the river. On the other hand, human pollutants such as debris and sewage can be harmful, and any river where civilization is abundant contains a portion of this pollution. Therefore, water can carry dangerous pollutants or life-giving substances.
A river is a wonderful thing when it functions normally, but can become dangerous when it is filled with dangerous chemicals and a raging destructive force when it exceeds its banks. While there are many pristine bodies of water in the world, many rivers and streams have become so polluted they are no longer safe. Water has a cleansing quality; I guess that’s why we use it to clean things. Good old soap and water will clean about anything. However, it can’t be used to clean anything when it is polluted, and when it rages it becomes a muddy, destructive force.
It’s kind of like people. All of us carry things around with us, some good and some bad. We’ve experienced things that have influenced us in both positive and negatives ways, and these influences can cause us to become polluted—even raging—and dangerous to others, or to become life-giving to others. It’s basically up to us how we allow our experiences to form us in a positive or negative sense. We can choose to forgive and be a positive influence on others, or we can choose to become bitter and negatively affect those around us.
Sometimes it feels like some in our country have become raging rivers filled with pollution. Hate is a dangerous pollutant that increasingly builds and destroys as it rages through people’s lives. When people hurt one another and purposely destroy one another, nothing good can result. Those who have chosen to rid themselves of pollution and become life-giving waters must be a cleansing force to overcome the negative influence of others. I hate to sound cliché, but sometimes cliché is the truth, so I’ll just say it. This can only be done through love. Sometimes tough love, sometimes just compassionate love, and sometimes love that is beyond understanding. Unconditional love. We must love others.
We cannot take life-giving water for granted, for loss of clear, clean water results in famine, which results in death. When we maintain our integrity, we can act as a river that carries life. Good water is essential, because wherever it goes, either through the ground or through our bodies, it takes along valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients. Good water. Pure water. Without it, we will starve. With it, we can refresh a parched land. We can bring life to a dying world.