Yesterday as I walked through the woods, I stopped at the top of an embankment, a place I often pause as it is the first place I can see the river.

It occurred to me what a perfect metaphor it presented.

Directly in front of me were trees, stripped of much of their foliage, branches bare and yet lots of undergrowth. I couldn’t see what lay beyond them.

Looking back the way I had come and down below, I could see a bend of the river. This was the first vantage from which to view it. I had known it was there but only now did it become visible.

Turning to my left and forward, I could see the river ahead. There was a patch of rough water, rapids and an option to take the main wider course or a narrower one. It was unclear if the narrower one ended or continued, either way you would have to navigate the rapids.

The similarity of a river to our lives

I think what really struck me was how much like life this one brief strip of river is. Our past is visible but only from a certain vantage and in some cases, height. The further we get from some aspects the more sense it is possible for it to make, if we take the time to look.

Then there is the present. As far as we know the bushwhacking that we  need to do could go on forever. There is nothing to indicate that there will be an end to it all. We could be 500 feet or 5000 feet from anything of any meaning or potential.

That future bit of river? Those are our hopes and dreams. We know we are on a journey and we want to see where it goes, and yet we must inevitably face some uncertainty. Tough times and no promises that we will get through. We won’t know until we are in them exactly what will be called for. Yet we know that no river is all rapids, nor is it all curves and dead-ends and backwater.

We do get to rest, to pause and reflect. To take stock and then, once again, we pick up our pack and move.

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