The Great River
Yesterday morning, I saw the Religious Society of Friends as a river, the Great River, Anduin.
For most of its course, the River flows fairly straight and strong. But occasionally it comes to a place of shallow rapids where the water is fast and the rocks are sharp. For some people, these places are exciting and for others they're just scary. Some people prefer to just get out and walk past them altogether.
In some places, the River widens out into deep, calm pools. It is placid on the surface, but who knows what lurks in the dark depths, for good or evil.
In other places, at other times, the River divides into a lot of little streams with bits of marshy ground in between. These times can be especially hard for us to travel across, but nonetheless, the water continues to flow through and eventually it all meets up again and flows on to the wide mouth of the River and on out into the great Sea.
And every once in a while, maybe once in a lifetime or once in a century, we come to a great Falls. Some people ride right on out over them and they crash and likely drown at the bottom. Others leave the River here and never come back. And some pick up their boats and carry them around the Falls - a short distance but very rough ground. I think in many ways the great schisms of our Society are like the Falls of Rauros.
And I realize that we are each on our own journey, our own river, and the hard thing is that unlike those following Anduin, we have no map - none of us has passed this way before and we don't know quite where we are. We are all out of our reckoning. We don't know how long the rapids will last or how far or high the Falls are. Sometimes we pass through a dark tunnel and come to find it's really the gate to a smoother passage. We don't know when we come to the marshy bits if it would be better to abandon our boats here or to try to carry them to the other side. But nonetheless, like the River Anduin, we flow on and we come out at the mouth of the Sea. We don't really know what we will find when we pass on into the Great Seas, but I believe that there we will encounter God in greater fullness.
And I find that in our Society, when we find the River joining together, we also experience God in greater fullness.
Labels: good books and music
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