The second day of “Mom’s Birthday Nature Tour” had us floating on tubes down the New River in West Jefferson, NC. As we plunked into the lime green mammoths, I continued sending up little pleas for sunshine, like mini flares that sputtered and nearly died out as it began to sprinkle. I settled into the River, deciding that no matter the weather, I was going to enjoy this float down a River I have tubed and canoed numerous times in the past.
The River has a mind of its own. Though the current is soft and gentle, it nevertheless guides and directs the human barges down-stream. One of our children seem to fight often against the stream’s chosen path for her. I kept encouraging her just to float, to let the water take her through the little overfalls, to not squirm and strive so much. She would enjoy it more.
I, on the other hand, in my yoga-lovin’ 50-year old self of go-with-the-flow, cease-striving mantras all around me, decided to close my eyes in a sort of crumpled corpse pose on the tube. Ahhh…bliss…
Trust the River
It will lead you home.
The only problem with this was being rudely wakened out of my river-tubing meditation to a tangle of limbs, leaves and spider-webbed brush along the outer edge of the River. Really? Is this where I needed to go? Doesn’t the River know I don’t want to be stuck here? Obviously not.
I’ll gloss over the fact that this happened to me on more than one occasion. I also found, upon returning to my blissful corpse-pose-in-a-tube that I would open my eyes to what seemed like the same patch of sky as when I had closed them. Looking around, I saw that indeed I was in a very VERY slow moving spot of the River, while my family had floated much farther down. So much for zen. It was time to get moving.
Upon reflection, as I sat at dinner with the family feasting at Shatley Springs Inn and Restaurant, our River excursion had been a lovely blend of effort and non-effort. There are parts of the River that require my partnership with it to get where I need to go, and other sections where I can trust the river to guide me as I rest and relax.
Of course, all this is a reflection on Life for me. A steep trail becomes a metaphor for pilgrimage. A river float is a picture of life. Even the water itself, that supports and guides my tube embodies the One who upholds and sustains me.
As I am now 50 years old and cannot ever again say that I’m 40-something, I feel that I’m on a new tributary of my life. It’s the same River, but a New branch that is wide and expansive and flows softly and gently. I have no idea what’s up ahead. That is ok. I know that I can trust the River. And with a little paddling and a great deal of awareness and listening, it will lead me home.
Note on the sketch: I did not dare take my iphone/camera on the tube with me, nor did I venture to take pen and sketchbook. The thought of either of them on the bottom of the River prevented me from bringing them along. So this one is from memory. I often feel that drawing from memory helps weed out unnecessary details one might be tempted to draw if one was actually drawing on site. Try it sometime. You might like it!