March 15, 2010

March 15: I will make … rivers in the desert


By Suzanne Ehst, academic counselor and assistant professor of education
THIS WEEK’S THEME: I will make … rivers in the desert

The lucid image of this week’s theme immediately speaks to me of renewal.

Surely my experience of living by the St. Joseph River prompts my interpretation of this line. This river is repeatedly a source of renewal for my work-weary soul. In the summer, my husband and I float our canoe downriver to a sand bar that is submerged about a foot below the surface. There we plant old lawn chairs and sit in water that tickles our seats; we wade with minnows, cast fishing lines into the deeper pools, and let the sun and water restore us. We are not by the river or on the river. We are in the river, physically submerged in a different kind of rhythm – a rhythm that dives and flows in constant motion, but moves not in a harried press toward production. It’s a rhythm that restores in us the sheer delight of living.

When I taught high school literature, rivers often showed up in our texts as symbols of renewal. In particular, I was impressed by the novella Siddhartha, where the title character experiences both despair and rebirth on the banks of a river. My high school students often expressed frustration that Siddhartha’s initial rebirth didn’t “stick” – that it was followed by an attack of life-loathing anguish. Because I was teaching in a Christian school, I had a ready comparison: “Haven’t you ever been inspired by a summer church camp or convention only to return to the routine of school and find you’ve lost that spiritual high?” The character, they saw, necessarily cycles through depletion and renewal, holding on and letting go, because it’s the rhythm of the spiritual journey.

In these late-winter days, I feel the ache of spring, but alas, my summer river-sits are yet a long way off. Still, I want to be attentive to other “rivers” in this Lenten season – the colorful birdsong in the morning; the gentle drift of a late-winter snow; the dive of a hawk into a fallow field. Here on the bank of spring, may we praise the Creator for these tangible promises of renewal.



Comments (13)

  1. Suzanne, thank you for this evocative piece of writing. I love the flow of river images that allows fluid connections between body, soul and spirit.

    Ann Hostetler March 15, 2010 |
  2. Just plain lovely. We are certainly feeling the ache of spring in Minnesota. We had a lovely taste of it yesterday. As is our regional custom, everyone was commenting on the beautiful, sunny day. One woman, a stranger, said to me, with a note of caution, “Remember, we have at least two springs, separated by bits of winter!” She was so right, in so many ways. In Minnesota, spring begins to tease as early as January, but never fully arrives until April. Those parentheses of warmer, longer days are enough to keep us going from one glimpse of spring to the next, despite the inevitable snow and ice in between. It’s that way with the heart, too. And with faith. Just wait for the Lord. Ps. 27 Thank you for a lovely start to my day!

    Maureen Nalezny March 15, 2010 |
  3. Thankyou for the beautiful writing a good start to my week

    carole March 15, 2010 |
  4. Great devotion, Suzanne! Wonderful imagery and a message we all need to hear, brought closer, I think, because I just met you at Silverwood. I hope your soul is not too work-weary, and you find sheer delight in living this week!

    James Rissler March 15, 2010 |
  5. I appreciated this day’s lovely Lenten devotion, so full of descriptive beauty of God’s great outdoors. ‘Twas a brief and pleasant reminder to be thankful and rejoice.

    Sandra March 15, 2010 |
  6. Thanks for this lovely gift on a rainy Monday morning. I find it both profound and evocative.

    Rachel March 15, 2010 |
  7. I loved the imagery of the waxing and waning of our Spiritual Journey. So often we fail to see the whole picture.
    Thank you for reminding us it is a journey, not a place. God Bless.

    Debbie March 15, 2010 |
  8. I enjoyed the imagery of the river. We, too, have sat in a river and been refreshed. I missed having a scripture passage to attach these words to.

    pat March 15, 2010 |
  9. “Here on the bank of Spring” – what a lovely thought. I so much appreciate this thought, and understand it well, since I live on the banks of the Clark Fork River in Montana, where the ice has gone off the river, and the snow banks along the shore are melting into the waters, just as the winter of my soul is melting through Lent and into the Spring of New Life. Thank you for sharing your thoughts – Tish

    Tish Herries March 15, 2010 |
  10. like this writer- scriptural based on life and aware that we are circular spiritual beings

    pAT March 15, 2010 |
  11. This reflection was absolutely beautiful! Thank you, enjoyed reading it.

    Jenny K March 15, 2010 |
  12. Thanks Suzanne…love your images and glimpse into who you are today. We are anxiously awaiting spring here in eastern PA too! Blessings from Deep Run East.

    Barb Rice March 15, 2010 |
  13. this stired my soul I truly loved it!!!!!!!!

    robert culp March 15, 2010 |