Thursday, September 1, 2016

At the back edge of the yard where I grew up there was a creek.  It was a magical thing for me. Now, as I think of it, I cannot imagine not having such a ribbon of glory as a child.  It was there that I discovered snails and crawdads and minnows and turtles and snakes.  The greatest gift from that creek, however, was wonder.  It has been a treasure I have carried with me for the past several decades.
One of the activities I recall in this creek was the industrious effort of constructing dams.  These were always made with natural and readily available resources: rocks, mud, silt, moss.  The design of these dams improved through the years as experience, combined with increased cognitive powers were gained.  The motive behind dam building was whimsical. Sometimes it arose out of the excess energy of childhood that needed something to do along with the brain's innate need for the reward of completing a task, of having accomplished some goal--no matter how pointless.  At other times the dam building was for the purpose of creating a deeper reservoir in which to wade, splash, and play; perhaps also to trap larger fish or other assorted creek abiding critters.
The dams never lasted long.  With the first rainfall the creek would swell and the power and force of tiny raindrops collected into hundreds of thousands of gallons of water would wash away the work.  The loss of each dam was part of the wonder as I came to recognize the strength of accumulation.
Sometimes there is a dam in my heart and mind as I consider the terrible things happening in our world.  It is a tiny dam that arises from fear and reaction to threat.  It holds back the waters of hope, forgiveness, and generosity in a punitive effort.  As I pray for peace to rain down, for the weather system to shift and flood the world with reconciliation, my tiny dam is overwhelmed and washed away.  It is a foolish little dam that is as capricious as the rock and mud and moss dams I built as a child.
You and I are rain-makers and each act of kindness, each insult returned with forgiveness, each threat overcome with compassion is a drop of rain falling from heaven, the accumulation of which is far more powerful than the tiny dams behind which fear becomes a reservoir of violence and hatred.  It is no less a wonder to behold the accumulated force of generosity and compassion than to be a child on the banks of a creek after a storm watching the water wash away that which cannot last.

© 2016 Stephen Carl

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