Trusting The Flow

Trusting the Flow

Every day I hear the sound of water returning to itself as it falls and swirls its way over cold hard stones. The water is stuck in a perpetual cycle, falling downward only to be pushed back up. Like Sisyphus it rises and falls, going nowhere.

I walk down to the river toward unfamiliar places carved by a storm of biblical proportions. The river, more a stream most seasons, now meanders through fields where Black Angus once grazed. It makes its way into and out of its old riverbed, following the instructions of a fickle Mother Nature. I find peace in the river, even in its altered state. In spite of all the new twists and turns, the river still knows where it is going. The river is moving. The river is not stuck.

I was. Stuck, that is. I’d been through my own storm of biblical proportions and I felt more like the water feature in my backyard, cascading down only to be pumped back to where I began. I read the words of poet Mark Nepo: “Can you endure your uncertainty until it shows you another deeper way?” I did not like Mark Nepo.

Last spring I visited friends in New England. Though it was mid-March, the full moon cast its scattered shadow on fresh-fallen snow. David was not feeling well. Carol and I talked by the fire. She looked at the stuck me and said matter-of-fact, “You cannot go back. You have to let go.” Carol is a prophet. She tells the truth you do not want to hear. You hear it because you know you are loved.

I have to fill the water feature every seven days. The water, weary of its circular journey, gives up and evaporates. My babbling brook is not self-sustaining. It requires electricity to run the pump and a human to fill the basin. The water feature has to be handled. The river does not have to be handled. In fact, if you notice, every time the Army Corps of Engineers tries to handle any river they only make things worse. Rivers should not be handled. They should be trusted.

So, I trust the flow.  Occasionally I try to stand still and withstand the rushing waters, but I am learning that does nothing but exhaust body and soul.  I already know you cannot go back upriver.  Last week, on my blog at, I wrote about a hike long ago when I did go back.  And yep, sure enough, I did not get where I wanted to go.  Interesting how that works.  Only by moving forward, trusting the flow, do you reach your destination.

Raging storm or meandering stream, we all must let go and trust the flow. It is the only way to reach the freedom of the open sea.

5 thoughts on “Trusting The Flow

  1. How you gracefully share you own struggles allows them to gently resonate within our own battles. The river and water feature symbolizes for myself also the “muck” that accumulates. Typically this is in more of the stagnant areas of a less flowing current. Like our own lives. When I’m in a less unhealthy place mentally, physically and spiritually the muck accumulates and I become aware that it is the stagnancy that must be addressed. A steady flow moving forward with purpose, embracing the unknown around each bend, is crucial for clearing the slimy debris of life.


  2. Hi Paula, Well written piece and one I can certainly embrace. I hiked all day around Lyons on Sunday and saw what many places where the river was doing its thing, being right where it is supposed to be. Just like us. I’ve been meaning to tell you how much I enjoyed our lunch last week. Let’s stay in touch, Dan


  3. Your words are like always very insightful. I am still amazed at your courage even I don’t understand it. I am and will always be your friend. We shared a lot in our childhood and hope you still will consider me your friend


  4. I’m so glad you are finding the courage to let go. For some reason it can be so difficult, the surrender, the trust needed to finally release our grip. Why we think we have so much control…who knows…our human default setting, perhaps. I’m excited for you, to see where all of this goes! You have inspired me, for sure.


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