Advent 20: Will the river run forever?

Thanks so much to all of you who sent messages over the past few days. It really does make a difference.

It feels important to carry on with these advent posts, so here is another old poem that has taken on a different significance from when I wrote it.

Perhaps the advent message here is less clear to you, but let me reframe it this way; previously I have used the term ‘the mercy’ to describe the great one-ness and am-ness of all things.

Richar Rohr describes this as ‘The Christ’ or the God who loves things by becoming them. The Christ refered here is both the same as and different from the physical person of Jesus. The Christ, through whom all things were made and have their being, comes to us as a child called Jesus, to live in the midst of our brokenness and vulnerability, to reveal to us the ways of mercy.

You may ‘get’ this, or it might seem strange and misguided. However, I feel it stronger than ever. We are have our being within this mercy, which both forms us and holds us. Our division from it and our individualism within it are tautological mysteries from which much of the pain of the human condition emerges, but this division is only temporary.

We tend to see our lives as linear events, as if our advent journey is always towards a distant vanishing point. As we look at the world around us though, the reality that we see is almost entirely cyclical. Seasons ebb and flow, the planets arch and turn about their heavenly stars, even the universe may well be looping back on itself as it expands.

Another way that I have tried to conceptionalise this is as a great water table, in which the essense, or the spirit, forms a great journey through different states, from sky to rain to river to sea and back again.

Advent, might form another cycle.

We rise then we return, held by the mercy.

Will the river run forever?


Will the river run forever?

Will it keep on tumbling down this cliff?

Will it keep on sparkling with the splash of light and life?

Will it dance to the scale of fin and fish,

Or will the music it makes

Fall silent?


Will the river run forever?

Will it carry the boat that carries me?

Will the flow go past these fields I know

And twist and turn to new places?

Or am I just a fool, floundering

In a stagnant pool?


Will the river run forever?

Will it keep carving these old rocks?

Will it keep on carrying them as suspended sediment,

Spew them through the open-mouth of an estuary

Fan them across the ocean floor,

Or will it fail?


Will the river run forever?

Will it irrigate? Will it recreate the flow

Of life in me? Will it roll through this world like laughter?

Will it quench the thirst of a thousand tongues

Or will it dry, like the salt tears of a woman

Done with weeping?

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