This month we have been looking at nature as a metaphor for God’s presence. God’s love is obvious in the diversity of mountains, in the new life sprouting on seemingly barren cliffs, and in the grace that is like water seeping through rocks.
In both Colorado and at Christ in the Desert Monastery rushing water played an important part in my thoughts. When I went to Durango, CO, I wondered how bad the remnants of the toxic spill would be and was pleasantly surprised that the river was cleaning itself, or being cleaned by the rushing water. At the monastery, the powerfully running river itself was a reminder of the ever moving power of God.
In early August, a mistake by an EPA crew released millions of gallons of toxic orange mine waste into the Animas River from an abandoned gold mine. Two weeks later, when my husband and I were in the area, you could still see the orange stained rocks and there was orange water still in the eddies along the sides of the river. However, the actual movement of the water had flushed most of the orange waste down the river.
To me that was an image for the work of the Spirit of God moving to wash out the toxic influences in our lives, when we allow God in. It doesn’t matter what bad habits, actions, or influences we’ve been harboring and cultivating. When we say ‘here I am’ to God, the Spirit of the Living God will begin to transform our lives and souls until we are clean. “Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
It doesn’t matter how ‘bad’ we have been. God’s promise is sure. “None of the sins that person has committed will be remembered against them. They have done what is just and right; they will surely live.” (Ezekiel 33:16) God’s Spirit washes and renews us, just like the Animas River is being cleaned and renewed by the action of the water flowing downstream.
The Chama River runs right through Christ in the Desert Monastery. I always make time to walk down to sit by the river when I am there. Near the river it is green and lush, exactly the opposite of the limestone cliffs towering over the valley. When we stay close to the river of the Spirit, we’ll find that we, too, are as Hildegard of Bingen says ‘greening’. God's Spirit brings blessing and revives our wilting souls. This quote from a d365.org meditation reminds us that God is with us in everything:
Being in partnership with God is no lonely calling, because we can trust God to hear our anger, our fatigue, our sadness. We can trust God to help us carry our heaviest struggles. And we can trust God to provide for us in surprising ways.
I invite you to consider what the rivers are in your life that refresh you.
Is it Bible reading? Is it prayer? Is it sitting quietly and letting God sit with you? Is being with family and friends where you find God’s Spirit? Or do you feel closest to God when you are serving others?
Hildegard says we are lush and green because of our relationship with God, whatever form that takes. In the next few weeks, we’ll look at some of Hildegard’s words.