When I was 15, Bruce Springsteen released the River, a song rich with images that played like a movie. His ability to tell a story drew me in. I longed to plunge myself in the river, to wash away regrets I did not even have.
Years later, Brother Where Art Thou created a resurgence for old spirituals about the river. I did not know when I saw it in the summer of 2000, that I soon would wade my way on a journey to deeper spiritual life as an ordered minister and healer. Even with that, ultimately I found my greatest spiritual home on the blackberry river and I truly would go down to the river to pray as I picked, finding connection, release and a quiet place to listen to God’s whispers. This is the place that fills my soul and continues to give me insights into the Divine.
I went down to the river today to check the berries. The first thing I noticed was the river bank. Previously a gradual slope, the edge has been worn away by the high, fast waters of the spring run off. The river was flood high this year, and even now runs faster than usual, requiring careful attention to foot. But it felt good to step into the flow of it. As I did I could feel myself ground, my energy wash clean.
The berries are, for the most part, not quite ripe. Happily this means I’ll be back many times in the next few weeks. I’m kind of glad of it because I’m busy all weekend and was fretting that I would miss peak picking days. But apparently not.
In a few weeks blackberries will, once again, fill my freezer and pantry. In the winter, when their flavour graces my breakfast, they will bring memories of the river that provides them with their juice. And while I don’t go to the blackberry river in winter it continues to nourish me, continues to pray for me. Indeed continues to sing in me. Thanks be to God.
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