The River of Life provides support, transportation and protection to so many. As I sat by the bank of the river, I watched it flow gently with its edges lapping playfully at the bank. White cotton clouds dotted the deep blue sky. The breeze was brisk and provided comfort in the heat of late morn. I leaned against my favorite tree. The mighty oak that provided so much solace – shading me from bombarding rays and allowing me to blend in with the surroundings. It seemed to engulf my very being, nothing could penetrate its invisible hold.
A feeling of uneasiness bubbled within as I noticed my young visitor had not yet arrived. I searched the horizon for signs of his presence but all was quiet. I pressed closer against the tree, hoping it would protect me from this dread brewing within. I shook the feeling off, certainly all is fine. I gazed upward and noticed the changing edges of the clouds as they drifted uncaringly by. The breeze felt warmer and its strength on my cheek almost felt like a slap.
The sound of the water changed. It was so subtle at first that I did not notice, yet it forced me to look down. The water’s edge no longer lapped playfully, it moved with purpose and swiftness. I looked upstream and gazed in disbelief. Jumping to my feet, I screamed! The River of Life showed its other side. Just as the River gives, it sometimes takes away. The approaching river looked like a gray wall with chips of paint falling leaving white specks. As it neared and grew larger, I realized the paint chips were white cap waves.
I trembled, at first unable to move. I thought of my young visitor, he always took the same route to meet me. Because of the landscape, I knew he could not have escaped. The River of Death had come for him and he had no choice but to submit. My heart was heavy, I felt numb, surely the River would take me as well. As the water grabbed my ankles, the fear became overwhelming and I felt myself turn to run. I couldn’t hold on to my protector any longer. I had to leave the oak who had served me so well for so long. As I climbed clumsily up the slippery, jagged hill, I left the hold of my comforter. I was exposed. My eyes burned to see the world around me in a different light.
I turned to see the rising current. The eddies, waves and surge were unstoppable. “Why” was the question I heard in the back of my head. I didn’t have time to reflect on the question, the River was pursuing me. I fell and slid down. It seemed the River had widened its mouth to greet me. Its edge was teasing me. The hill I was attempting to climb seemed like a mountain. I struggled to climb, grabbing anything I could find. I felt weak and heard the River of Death calling to me, “My water is cool and soothing, it will cleanse your wounds. Come to me. Relax and let gravity bring you to me.” I was sure I had no more reserves, the beckoning of the River was enveloping me, just as my mighty oak had done before.
Suddenly I felt a surge, a push on my back. I felt comfort. I don’t remember climbing to the top of the hill, but I was there. I turned just in time to see my mighty oak uprooted and whisked away. It could not withstand the forceful current.
The water slowly receded and the River of Life was again peaceful and giving. I surveyed my world. It was destroyed. I noticed that many much, much smaller trees were still standing. Although they sustained some damage, they were not uprooted and whisked away. The mighty oak had been foolish. It grounded itself in the shifting sand and did not have the support it needed to withstand the devastating current. The smaller, quieter trees were well-grounded in heavy dirt and they depended upon each other for support. Their roots were intertwined. They learned to hold hands in times of trouble. The oak was lonely and did not hold hands and therefore it could not survive.