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The River – Epilogue

The River – Epilogue

“With what was I moved when I touched your shoulder?  With what have I been moved as we stand here and speak?”  She implores.

There is no hesitation as I answer, my voice is strong, and clear – as I have not heard it yet:

“Compassion.”

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You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
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Ever After.
“Yes.  Compassion,” her voice is young and sweet again.

“I don’t know much about compassion.”

“I’m still learning too,” she confesses, “We all are.”

“Really?  You seem to understand it pretty well to me.”

“I still have much to learn – let’s learn together.”  She extends her hand.

Hand in hand we wade the river.
Sloshing along; sometimes surefooted, oftentimes slipping and sliding.
Wading from soul to soul offering water to the thirsty.  Some drink others stare.

Analogy.
Paul, standing on a hill named for a pagan warlord, explained to spiritually parched philosophers:

27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” ~ Acts 17

John, after hearing it from the Source, wrote:

” 6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”
~ Revelation 21

Jesus, to the promiscuous woman, said:

14 Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” ~ John 4

The Spirit and the bride, to whomsoever will, say:

17…Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” ~ Revelation 22

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying:

37…If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” ~ John 7

Cutting the Mustard.
When I started this post I intended to write about a mustard seed.
The Kingdom & Faith were compared to the mustard seed by Jesus (Matt 13:31-32, Luke 17:5-6).  The worth of the mustard seed is not in its size.  Its worth is not in any characteristic it contains, but one.  Not its height, strength, beauty, prosperity.  The sole trait that gives the mustard seed its value is in what it provides to others, and how it quietly provides it – without seeking its own glory, instead bringing glory to its Creator.

A Mustard Tree

As it is with our faith:

“15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” ~ James 2

So it is with our compassion…  Seeing, hearing, and feeling will not change your world.  Acknowledging a need is not enough bring life.  It takes moving with compassion to change your world.

I still have much to learn – let’s learn together.  I extend my hand.

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 6

The River – Page 6

Having lost balance and control the river carries me.  I come to rest not too far from an older lady.  She is standing firm in her place, unmovable as the rest, yet her eyes hold a bit of life in them.  She sees me and smiles.

“Sonny, that’s not the way to do it,” she says to me.
“The way to do what?” I ask.
“To get a man to drink.”

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You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
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Growing.
Her voice has a familiar ring to it.
“He wants that river more than he realizes.  He would love to have the water rush over him,” she says.

“Oh.  Really?  You can see?  And hear?  And speak?”

“Yes sonny.  We are not all handicapped – well, not all completely handicapped anyhow..”

“Have you tasted the river then?”

“Oh, yes!  Long ago…  Long ago.  I had my fill!  I remember the day the wine skin crossed my path.  ”

“Then why do you stand here, immobile and stained?”

Photo from LATimes

“Along the way things happen… people grow.  I grew weary.  I grew frustrated.  I grew bitter.  I grew stagnant.  I looked up one day and realized my wine skin was gone.  Until, now, here I am in my place – relegated to drinking mere sips of the river from feeble cupped hands…”

“Tell me about the wine skin – is that why the man wasn’t healed by the water?  It didn’t come through the wine skin?”

“Yes, and no.  The river was offensive to him, not because of the water itself.  He wants the water.  He was offended because you were focused on the wrong thing.  His need – our need – is not the outward filth.”

“I thought he would feel revived as I was.  I enjoyed drinking from the wine skin, but I loved letting the river cover me and cleanse me…  and…  I thought he would too”

“Before the outward can be refreshed – the inward thirst must be assuaged.”

“And that’s where the wine skin helps?  Quenching the thirst?”

“Yes – now you’re getting it.  And that’s why these old frail hands are inadequate – sips cannot satisfy my longing…  But I let mine go – Sonny, don’t ever let your wine skin go, never.  No matter what comes along. Hold fast to it.”

“But this isn’t really mine – a girl gave it to me.”

The old woman chuckled.
“That’s just it, none of us has our ‘own’ really – everyone that has ever held it knows they have received it as a gift.  No one really possess the wine skin.  As for the girl, she still has ‘hers’ and that one is ‘yours’ now.  That is the mysterious thing about the skins.  You possess it.  It possesses you.  And, when you share it with another thirsting soul, you both leave full and each with a wine skin in hand.”

“Really?  That seems simple…  Just share it with someone else?”

“Sonny…  it wasn’t so simple sharing with that man, now was it?”

Now I chuckle.  “No ma’am, I suppose it wasn’t.  I was just compelled to do something and move.  How do you share the wine skin the right way?”

“Moving is right.  But, what were you being moved by?”

“The cold…”

“And?”

“…and  …and a bit of anger.”

“Exactly.  You won’t help anyone be filled by being moved with cold and anger.  Those are not cleansing motivations.  You have to learn to be moved the way the river wants you to move…”

“How is that?”

“Think of the girl.  What was she moved with when she reached you?  Did she thrash at you?  Did she fling the cold at you?  Was the river a weapon she wielded to whittle you into what she dreamed you should be?”

She stopped abruptly interrupted by a coughing spell.  “All this talking – my throat is dry…”

I hand her my wine skin.  She drinks.  The woman empties the skin, bends to refill it, comes back up – her hair no longer grey, but red… and long.  By long, I mean long.  Hands no longer withered, but strong – with fingers that look to be fitted to dance along piano keys.  Face no longer wrinkled but clean and young, shining bright green eyes.  Sharing a smile showcasing less than perfect teeth.  I look and see that we are both holding our own wine skins, but I remember handing her my own…

“With what was I moved when I touched your shoulder?  With what have I been moved as we stand here and speak?”  She implores.

There is no hesitation as I answer, my voice is strong, and clear – as I have not heard it yet:

“Compassion.”

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 5

The River – Page 5

Let the icy grip plunge me under…  Until the chrysalis is completely shed and washed away forever.

Even now.  As the cold challenges me.  Frigid fingers jab me and push me.  It is a bitter cold that demands movement for warmth.  Stay still and let the cold freeze you to death, or move and live.  Move I do.

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You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
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Moving.
After coming up fully clean I cannot allow these others to remain dry and empty standing catatonic in the midst of their hope.  The injustice fills me with rage.  They must be reached.  They must be awakened.  They must be filled with the river.  With the water they long for and need all around them, I cannot allow them to perish in their desiccated state.

Fueled by cold and anger I move.  For the first time in my memory, my feet dislodge from their posts where they have stood sentry for days untold.  Each rising from the river bottom, a task as difficult as raising the twin pillars of Hercules.  It takes a moment to liberate them from their aquatic mausoleum.  As they are freed they find new life.  They propel me forward, toward the nearest of the thirsting throng.

There is no subtility in my approach.  As I travel I flail.  I splash.  I thrash.  I am moving.  The water is moving.  The river is being thrown into the air around me as I close the gap between this man and the life he needs.  The man, though, is oblivious to me.  The water touches him before I come within arm’s reach of him.  Drops of river spray cover his head, hit his face, wet his hair but neither affects his stare nor revives his vitality.  I take a step back and lower myself until my shoulders are under the surface.  Then I launch myself out of the water, fully spraying the man – covering him head to knee with the river, with what he needs.

His reaction is not what I expected.  He does not leap for joy.  There is no great awakening.  He does, however, grab fistfuls of my shirt and pull me close to him for a brief second.  In that second he tells me to leave his world alone and then thrusts me back into the river.

Having lost balance and control the river carries me.  I come to rest not too far from an older lady.  She is wrinkled, has a head covered with thin, grey strands of hair, and is wearing a bright flower print mumu that is two sizes too large for her aged frame.  Her face, arms, and dress are spotted with grime.  She is standing firm in her place, unmovable as the rest, yet her eyes hold a bit of life in them.  She sees me and smiles.

“Sonny, that’s not the way to do it,” she says to me.
“The way to do what?” I ask.
“To get a man to drink.”

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 4

The River – Page 4

“They need someone to show them.  They need someone to tell them.
They need some one to touch them.  Will you?”

“Yes.”  The sound was raspy and garbled at first – odd for a single word to sound garbled.  But I heard it.  My voice.  And so I repeated it, until it was clear.  “Yes, yes, yes, yes!  I will.”

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You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
___________________________________________________________________________________________

Feeling.
As I heard myself say the words, something changed in the water.  It sliced its icy claws into my calves – piercing deep into the marrow of my bones – nearly hollowing me out.  The cold slit its way into the arteries and vessels trying to blockade the flow of life that kept me standing.

Perhaps it was not the water that changed.  This crystalline, pure, refreshing river did not turn malevolent in an instant.  This eye-opening, ear-unplugging, life-giving flow did not metamorphosis into a tearing beast of tide by just a few simple words.  Maybe it was me that changed.  A revelation.  An unveiling.  An epiphany of sorts.

The river has not changed one iota.  Not in years.  Ages probably.  The river has remained clear, fully revealing what it holds.  Never hiding its depths.  The river has remained pure.  Never allowing the pollutants that cover me  (and no doubt those on the distant masses) to contaminate it.  The river has always held the power to illuminate, revive, and cleanse.  Although constantly moving and rushing to an end unseen.  Although surrounded by dirt and grime, the river does not bend according to the whims of the bordering earth.  Instead it carves and enlarges its own banks.  It engulfs the filth that attempts to encroach upon the river’s destiny.

The only difference here is in me.  In drinking of the river moments ago I have undergone the metamorphosis, not the river.   Perhaps the slicing and clawing I felt was simply the shedding of my personal chrysalis – not as the beautiful Blue Morpho or regal Monarch but more as the Twany Emperor. Encapsulated in a shell of my own creation just moments ago.

Was it moments?  Time does not seem to hold much weight in this place.  Moments, minutes, hours – it seems like a lifetime ago, a distant era where I was barely existing.

I was blind – seeing only shadows.  In a world as quiet as a catacomb.  Numb to both pain and joy.  Yet after consuming the water I can see, hear, and, now, feel.  A definite and sure cleansing occurs everywhere the water has touched.  I can only perceive this on the inside where I have ingested the river, but it is visible on the outside.  Where the water has spilled down my chin the skin is clear, dirt is erased.  Where I hold the wine skin my hands are clean as they have not been since my birth…  I’m experiencing a re-birth in these moments.

I am compelled to now let the water cover my whole body.  Wash me completely – outside now as well as in.  Let the icy grip plunge me under, until each hair is pure.  Until each wrinkle around my eyes is empty.  Until my whole self is as angelic as the girl who awakened me.  Until the chrysalis is completely shed and washed away forever.

Even now.  As the cold challenges me.  Frigid fingers jab me and push me.  It is a bitter cold that demands movement for warmth.  Stay still and let the cold freeze you to death, or move and live.  Move I do.


 
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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 3

The River – Page 3

Everyone of them have dry parched lips.  They look thirsty.  So thirsty – parched.
Dying of thirst.  No water in sight.  Alone.

Yet, I am both here – with them – and carrying the canteen.

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You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)

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Hearing.
It is then I realize the sound.  Or the lack of certain expected sounds, rather.

I hear the water rushing.  I hear the gentle breeze as it winds its way through the trees on the banks, around the pillars of people standing in the river, and across the ripples of the river.  I heard the voice of the girl once I had tasted the river.

I haven’t heard myself though.  In conversing with the girl, it was only her voice I heard – not my own.  Nor do I hear any noise from the multitudes in the river with me now.  With this many people, my expectation would be to hear a cough, or cry, or laugh, or sigh.  With the water rushing past each one I would expect one to falter and splash, or shiver at the least.  Yet not a sound from them.

“See them now?”  It’s the voice of the girl.
Yes, I see them.

“Look familiar?”  She asks… although I still haven’t heard myself answer her first question.
No…  I haven’t seen them before.

“That’s not the familiar I was referring to.”
Why can’t I hear myself?

“You will.  You’ll find your voice…  Look familiar yet?”
No, should they?  Are you hearing my thoughts?  Where are you?

“Not your thoughts, no – you’re speaking.  Don’t worry about where I am.  Worry about yourself – – and them.”
Who are they?  Why worry about them?

“They’re just like you, and that’s why you need to worry about them!  They’re thirsty.  So thirsty – parched.  Dying of thirst.  Remember!?”

She almost sounds angry.  An odd and unexpected reaction to my questions.  I am still adjusting to this new world in which I live – I have no real understanding of what is happening in and around me.  It was not my intention to disturb my new friend.

So in response, I say… or think… or think I say to the girl:
But we are standing in a river.  Water is rushing all around our knees.  How can they be dying of thirst?

“Have you forgotten already?  Just as you were blind, deaf, and numb.  They cannot see it, or hear it, or feel it.  They need someone to show them.  They need someone to tell them.  The need some one to touch them.  Will you?”

“Yes.”
The sound was raspy and garbled at first – odd for a single word to garble.
But I heard it.  My voice.
And so I repeated it, until it was clear.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes!  I will.”

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 2

The River – Page 2

“Don’t think about it all yet, for now just observe, adjust, and drink,” she commands, and I comply.
I drink until the skin is empty, then I refill it from the river.  Pure and clean.  I’ve never seen water so clean.  I do not leave the river, I stay knee-deep in it.  Fill, drink, empty.  Repeat until my thirst is quenched.

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You may want to click the links to read from the beginning.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)
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Seeing.
Before I realize it, the girl is gone.  Where did she go?  I do not know.  She left the wine skin with me.  I refill it again.  I look around and really see now.  I see the river flowing, so clear.  I see the banks – so far away, this river is wide.  I have never seen a river so wide.  The light is shining, and I do not understand why it has been this bright for ages and I have not seen it.  Colors are brilliant.  Beams of light refracting off the surface, creating prisms and dancing amoebic shapes.  I am captivated by the sight.

Captivated not just by the beauty.  There is another piece of this vision that arrests my eye – but it’s disturbing.  I wonder how I did not see them before?  People, lots of them.  Standing in the river with me are people – their diversity is commendable.  Men and women.  Old and young.  (Curious though – infants and toddlers don’t exist here.)  Thin, some very thin – emaciated, and others grossly obese.  With every variation in between.  There are those dressed in rags.  There are those dressed in suits that appear custom cut for their frames.  Tall and short.  Long haired and bald.  Every race is represented.  Latino, Asian, native American, white, black – every skin tone is in the river.  It is evident the river does not discriminate; yet, as much as each is an individual, there are a few things that bind these people together.

Each is standing, exactly up to their knees, in the river.  Everyone, regardless of their stature, or position in this odd society is in as deep as the next.  But the most haunting thing about these souls is this:  Each is alone.

Picture came from here: my.opera.com/UrbanOctober/blog/i-walk-alone

As if there were danger or disease to be spread by standing closer – every one, without exception, cannot be reached by another.  With outstretched arms they would not come near touching.  If they were to somehow stretch prostrate on the water’s surface – stretching their legs and arms to cover as much length as possible – they would not come within even feet of connecting with a peer.  Hopelessly alone.

Judging by the glazed expressions, they know they are alone.  All with distant stares, looking lost in thought.  Or maybe just lost.  Their eyes are hollow.  Everyone of them share that look, and their lips are the same as well.  Everyone of them have dry parched lips.  They look thirsty.  So thirsty – parched.  Dying of thirst.  No water in sight.  Alone.

Yet, I am both here – with them – and carrying the canteen.

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in The River Story

 

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The River – Page 1

The River – Page 1

The River.  The Girl.  The Canteen.
I’ve been here for years.  Standing in the twilight.  Standing in the whispers.  Standing in solitude.  Being, but not seeing, or hearing, or feeling.  Oblivious to the reality around me.  Seeing only dimly.  Hearing only chaos.  Feeling alone.  Feeling alone and thirsty.  So thirsty – parched.  Dying of thirst.  No water in sight.  Alone.

So thirsty – parched.  Dying of thirst.  Until she tapped my shoulder.  A girl, pretty, I think.  She is thin, not too tall – but not short.  Long red hair.  By long I mean long.  I can only see to her knees and it goes beyond there – perhaps it drags the ground.  With green eyes.  Smiling, showcasing less than perfect teeth.  Smiling and reaching out.  Her hands seem cleaner than any hands I remember seeing.  Fingers that look to be fitted for dancing along piano keys.  Instead she’s clutching a canteen. She handed me the canteen.

Picture taken from here: dleiberg.blogspot.com (Note: I have not read the blog, just saw the picture)

The canteen is old and battered.  In the girl’s hands it is a sharp juxtaposition.  In mine it is nearly camouflaged.  Made of leather, it is worn.  It’s been patched, more than once.  Laces hold the seams in place to prevent its contents from seeping out and going to waste.  Not a canteen, but a wine skin.  A wine skin not carrying an escape from reality.  Perhaps the opposite.  I drink.  In it is water.

Pure and clean.  I’ve never seen water so clean.  The water is clear.  Crystal clear may not describe it right, clearer than crystal.  Transparent is just about accurate.  If it were not for the sound and the feel of it, it may be invisible.

But I see it now.  A whole river of water.  I am standing in its flow.  I can hear it now too – its calming, reassuring voice.  I feel it rushing around my knees. The temperature is just right. Generally rushing river water is cold, springing out of a rocky mountain top or cascading from a melting ice flow, but not this river.  Or… Perhaps it is cold and I’ve just been standing in its grasp so long I have become numb to its icy fingers?

“No,” she says.  The girl is pretty, angelic, and standing in a rushing river – yet it seems natural. “The temperature is just right.  Your senses are awakening.  Life is beginning.  Your vision is clearing.  You will see things as they are for the first time in maybe years.  Your ears are opening and you will hear as never before.  But, best of all you will begin to feel.”  I hear her clearly, but didn’t hear myself ask a question.  Did she read my thoughts?  “Don’t think about it all yet, for now just observe, adjust, and drink,” she commands, and I comply.

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This is only the beginning of the story…
I will link the rest of the story here as it is written.
(Page 1  –  Page 2 –  Page 3  –  Page 4  –  Page 5  –  Page 6  –  Epilogue)

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2012 in The River Story

 

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