The River of God- Season of Creation Rivers

Exekiel 47
Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple towards the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate that faces towards the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.
Going on eastwards with a cord in his hand, the man measured one thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured one thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the waist. Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be crossed. He said to me, ‘Mortal, have you seen this?’
Then he led me back along the bank of the river. As I came back, I saw on the bank of the river a great many trees on one side and on the other. He said to me, ‘This water flows towards the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the sea, the sea of stagnant waters, the water will become fresh. Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’
Revelation 22:1-7
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever.
And he said to me, ‘These words are trustworthy and true, for the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.’
‘See, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.’
John 7 37-39
On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
I am very fortunate to be able to say of my life as Norman MacLean named his novel, “A river runs through it”.
I grew up on the banks of a river, have lived in many towns with rivers running through them and now am at Port Alfred where the Kowie river mouths into the endless and deep sea.
As we have seen with Forests, Land and Wilderness in this Season of Creation; rivers also are vital to the life of the planet. They are the conduits of essential fresh water for the land.
Nile, Amazon or Ganges the river is also an archetypal image of the life of Spirit.
Just like rivers we polute or neglect our heartsprings at our peril.
That must be why the river is seen as a symbol of the life of God and the process of renewal in the Christian Scriptures.
I recently watched a re-run of the classsic movie Ben Hur. It was intriguing to see how the movie maker Ben Wyler depicted the blood flowing from the Cross mingling with a river and moving ever onwards across the landscape.
Rivers of meaning, rivers of renewal, rivers of dreams.
Listen to Billy Joel:

In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep 
From the mountains of faith 
To the river so deep 
I must be lookin’ for something 
Something sacred I lost 
But the river is wide 
And it’s too hard to cross 
even though I know the river is wide 
I walk down every evening and stand on the shore 
I try to cross to the opposite side 
So I can finally find what I’ve been looking for 
In the middle of the night 
I go walking in my sleep 
Through the valley of fear 
To a river so deep 
I’ve been searching for something 
Taken out of my soul 
Something I’d never lose 
Something somebody stole 
I don’t know why I go walking at night 
But now I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore 
I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life 
Until I find what it is I’ve been looking for 
In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep 
Through the jungle of doubt 
To the river so deep 
I know I’m searching for something 
Something so undefined 
That it can only be seen 
By the eyes of the blind In the middle of the night 
I’m not sure about a life after this God knows I’ve never been a spiritual man 
Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river 
That is runnin’ through the promised land
In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep 
Through the desert of truth 
To the river so deep 
We all end in the ocean 
We all start in the streams 
We’re all carried along 
By the river of dreams 
In the middle of the night.

I think Billy Joel has glimpsed that the river is God.
In traditional African religion the river is a place where the depths of God is found.  Children who drown must not be mourned for they will return as healers someday.
In the West we seem obsessed with damming or bridging rivers.  It is as if we resent the river’s inexorable flow.
When will I realize that the other bank of the river is exactly the same as this one that I am trying to escape?
Why don’t I plunge into the depths as Ezekiel’s vision invites me to.
If I am lucky, I too will end in the ocean of God’s immense and restless Love.


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