In times as tumultuous as these, it’s easy to feel like water over rocks: tumbling, crashing, cascading without control onto whatever hard landing waits below. Most people I know have had moments of that feeling, this year. Perspective is elusive. Plans are always made with a caveat; an overriding “if” that reflects uncertainty about what even the next hours will bring.
That’s a hard way to live, even if it’s a clarification of life’s constant uncertainty, rather than a fundamental shift. Uncertainty’s sharp edge can cut us inside, after awhile. Restoration of perspective then becomes more important than any practical task on our “to do” lists.
When uncertainty opens a wound in me, I head east to the waterfalls that grace our mountains. Scarcely more than half an hour from home, I enter another landscape in which I can remember what it truly is be water cast over stone. It’s a familiar meditation; one I’ve practiced for decades. Yet it remains new every time.
On a Monday morning in a world that’s crowded elsewhere, no one is at the waterfalls but me. No one human, that is: vibrant life surrounds me, evidenced by twitters and scurries and pounding hooves along the trail in. All sound but water is masked as I reach the falls, though. The waterfalls sing a song that shifts moment to moment, but hasn’t ceased for thousands of years. Even in dry summers, a little water always persists here. Waterfalls do not give up.
I’m only a droplet within the falls of greater life, not the falls themselves. Beside me, so are you, and you and you and you: all of us tumbling, falling, merging, jostling against each other as gravity makes its incessant demands. No droplet, no human, can see where our fall will lead us. It’s easy to fear the rocks, the uncertainty.
From the river shore, however, perspective emerges in the shape of the longer flow. The falls have been going over the same cliff for eons, only slowly wearing the rock slightly smooth. The river’s course only subtly shifts, over periods of time that make each droplet’s living passage an infinitesimal moment. Gravity does its tireless work, taking each droplet inevitably downstream, to where all droplets will merge in the greater sea.
That is you, me, all of us. The spirit sea will cradle us and allow us rest, in time. There is no uncertainty about that. Every life stream’s course always reaches its destination, however tumultuous its path along the way. The waterfalls sing to me of this, every time I need their reminder. Far away downstream, the ocean sings of this too. Water sings the ageless song of how all of us are always falling towards home.