What is a River?

It is not the water running
along its rocky course.
The water is but a traveller,
journeying from cloud to sea.

Listen to its gurgling…
Is this the river speaking?
Or is its voice hidden
in the chattering symphony
of robins perched in the bush
and singing their territorial proclamations?

This riverstone, maybe it knows.
It certainly speaks of water
and it knows the strength
of being endlessly ground down,
smoothed and rounded
until it exists no more.

Maybe the tree knows.
Its whole life has been spent
wrestling its roots
into the rocky river ground.
Surely it knows this rivers name?

This mountain knows, I am sure of it!
The way it looks over this rocky stream,
endlessly incubating the meandering path
of the rivers undulating folds.

Everyone knows this river but me.
I sit here, stupefied,
having always thought I knew.

And yet sitting here now,
all my knowing
has become unravelled before my eyes
and it is this beautiful unravelling
of a stubborn mind
that has turned my river impressions inside out.

Yet somehow in this unravelling
there is an essence that remains behind,
a whisper floating on the morning breeze.

The river is everywhere,
even where it is not,
and it has always only been me
who was not there to see it.

Prince Albert, Swartberg Pass river meditation.

All of nature has a language. All creatures speak, the rocks, the sky, the water, the mountain, they all have a language to share with us. It is us who do not listen, who do not hear, who do not learn the language of nature. There is a deep intelligence in all of life around us, an intelligence that enjoys our communication, our care, our love, that celebrates our meaningful interactions. By witnessing the sacred consciousness in nature, in every thing that belongs to the Earth, we create an open invitation to partake in this conversation. We dont always hear what we want to hear, but nature speaks very clearly.

The river in this poem was alive on this day that I sat in the mountains in an isolated part of the Karoo, far from any human being. It was always alive, but on this day it sang to me and I was able to receive its song. There is such simplicity in spirit of nature. The light of nature, the Lumen Natura as Jung called it, speaks to us with the simplicity and joy that is the presence of God in all things.

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