Life is very much like a river, wouldn’t you think? Come, let us take a look at that river even just now. The first thing we can observe is the surface, which is relatively calm in most situations. It mirrors the sky and trees above it, a beautiful sight to behold as earth and sky reflect as one. Yet this reflection also serves to disguise the world just below this shimmering, placid picture. Just below the rivers’ surface, there are numerous currents, flowing this way and that, seemingly with minds of their own. There are countless life forms below as well, too many to count with each one trying to live out its life cycle. Many simply do not make it. Some are swallowed whole by others, their existence ended in the time it takes to blink your eyes. Others are dissected slowly, one bit at a time as if this river of life had sent an emissary to deal with them, perhaps to see how much it will take to break them or perhaps to see if they will break at all! Yes, the waters here are teeming with all sorts of scenarios that make up its life and the lives within it. Are there not parallels to be drawn with life above surface?
Speaking of the world above the river’s surface, let us now return there for a time. Now if one looks sharply, they will see what appears to be a canoe coming this way. As it draws close, it is apparent that there are two men in this canoe, sometimes paddling and at other times simply allowing the current to pull them along. They are coming in closer now, close enough to see they are surely Father and Son. One would have to be without sight not to see the resemblance. At first glance, they appear to be having themselves a good time. The Son is at the rear of the canoe and occasionally uses the paddle to “accidentally” splash water on the father. At some point, he even steers the craft into some overhanging branches which, of course grazes Dad’s head! Oops! And their laughter fills the sky above when this occurs. Yes, it appears they are having themselves a grand time here!……On the surface, that is.
However, if you look a just a bit closer in, you may see some irritation in the eyes of the younger fellow. You might even catch a glimpse of a sort of satisfaction in those eyes when the front of the canoe heads into the branches previously mentioned. Now beyond that, there is nothing that the casual observer would notice. But were it possible to probe deeper, to go further below the surface, you would see that things are not always as they seem to be. You would see a picture of the Father at work, always at work during the formative years of his sons’ life. As the years wear on, you get glimpses of discord in family life, of situations beyond control and lives seemingly out of control. And Dad? Well, Dad is the provider, trying to provide and doing what he feels is the right thing for his family. The Son understands these things as he matures, of course. Or does he really? Perhaps there is some small part of him that carries resentment towards those lost years and the lack of family unity. And I am speculating here, but perhaps that resentment surfaced, if only briefly during that day on the river.
Yes, Life is indeed very much like a river. And a river is very much like Life. I suppose that may be where the term “River of Life” originated from. Perhaps this is true.
Authored by William J. Thompson, Jr.