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Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies.

— St.Ambrose

The Mysterious River Of Time

Posted in Death/Resurrection, and Lent

Time has me fascinated with these tiny wrinkles appearing on my skin like dew on the evening grass. Time is a river carrying me to eternity. Strangely, eternity always exists, but my body flows and decays toward an end, death’s gate where the river pours into the eternal sea of God.

Cars passing by move continuously to a new moment, decaying as well. My solitude in silent prayer and stillness is moving as well taking me to an encounter with God who is always still, silent, yet speaking, the same now as he was 40 years ago. I don’t look the same with these tiny wrinkles forming mysteriously in once smooth skin. I wonder how he causes this phenomenon of ageing; dying is more precise. Yet death is his last enemy to conquer, so who if not He causes it?

The mysterious river of time moves me in a similar way the river moves me when I paddle my kayak. I can only work with the current, remaining docile to it, surrendered in fact. I can’t oppose its power or fight it, only use it to guide me. Yielding to this flow I’m carried through time’s beautiful features, playfully through its waves and eddies. O Lord, help me to abandon myself to you whose river it is that carries me to you. Help me to let it carry me happily to you.

If in a moment of great joy I try to make a lasting home on the river’s banks, building a secure dwelling there, imagining forever living there, the river will one day rise and sweep me away into an unknown tomorrow downstream.

My existence began in the headwaters of my mother’s womb where I bathed in the tranquil pool of her love. I could not stay there because I’m called and drawn toward the sea of an eternal Love for which I was created.

The river carried me out of her protective womb through canyons rising to drifting clouds. It meandered through marshy flats in my youth where I felt no apparent movement, only questions, searching thoughts, and restless longing.

The river loved my youthful energy, swiftly carrying me away from sleepy marshlands toward turbulent white stretches where I could spend my energy, skill and strength. Strong and agile I played on curling, foamy waves that danced and sang along with me. Rocks, ledges and boulders tried to break the strength of the river, but time never stops flowing, is never held back, slides instead over and around determined obstacles.

 

Madawaska below MKC 2019Lower set below above gravel pit Madawaska RiverLike the river carrying me, I grew more docile and flexible yielding more and more to the One who made the river that carries me to himself. I can scout some of time’s difficult rapids using the paddle strokes of prayer and Eucharist to help me pass through dangerous stretches, but I cannot avoid them, nor can I prevent the river engulfing me, leaving me helpless. In these moments of apparent destruction, I cry to the One who loves me just like it says in the Psalm,

Some sailed to the sea in ships

to trade on the mighty waters.

These men have seen the Lord’s deeds

the wonders he does in the deep.

For he spoke; he summoned the gale,

tossing the waves of the sea

up to heaven and back into the deep;

their soul melted away in their distress.

They staggered, reeled like drunken men,

for all their skill was gone.

Then they cried to the Lord in their need.

And he rescued them from their distress.

He stilled the storm to a whisper:

all the waves of the sea were hushed.

They rejoiced because of the calm

and he led them to the haven they desired.

(Psalm 107)

When I cry to him in my misfortune he always rescues me and I always thank him for the wonders he has done. But the river never stops moving; beauty and danger always lie ahead, but I’m confident in the one who carries me on this mysterious river of time. He will guide me to the eternal sea of his kingdom.

Along the way he gives me a heart like his to watch for those who, like me, are tossed and engulfed in the current. Along the way he calls me away from the current’s frenzy into an eddy, a chapel of rest where he holds me, sending his mother to console me.

One day the river will carry me into the sea of His eternal embrace. Never do I know when the river will end. I fix my eyes on him who draws me there standing on the horizon with open arms filled with radiant light. Lord hold me tight when earth’s light dims, my limbs grow weak and my body finally gives way to dust settling gently in the mysterious river of time.