Rivers can be places of great beauty.
I took a walk to the river today and I was delighted with the view. Today I understand why water-front property is so sought after. A family of ducks were out sunning themselves as I was there. All nature seemed to realize that perfect weather such as we had today is not a thing to be taken for granted in October.
Rivers are irascible things. Some days they are peaceful and patiently reflect the sky’s brilliant blue. No matter how serene a river may look it is never still. The current is always present pulling everything caught in their wake onward. The relentless movement reminds us that time is forever moving us on. Peaceful moments of bliss come, as does the inexorable current pulling us ever toward the sea.
While they usually flow within their banks rivers always have the potential to flood. A river actually is a large landowner. Most of the time they only use a small portion of what they own. There is always a much larger land area that the river owns, but leases to the surrounding purchasers on terms they do not always understand.
The river owns all the land in the flood plain. There is no charge from the river to the user of the land. People sell the land to one another. You may own a piece of the river’s land. It is yours to use as you see fit, but now and then in periods of excessive rain and/or snow melt the river will reclaim its’ rightful heritage.
Floods are not peaceful high-water. A raging current accompanies a flood. It will tear out shrubs, rip up small trees, topple and wash away lawn furniture and everyone’s garbage cans. When the water recedes debris will be everywhere. Flood-mud is sticky, thick sludge that will be left behind. It can be polluted, depending upon what sort of industrial or chemical storage the river flooded as well. Everything that was within its’ scope is mixed in a thick stew that is redeposited somewhere else.
Isaiah 43:1b-2,”Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.”
After the clean-up mud will be left to mix in with the soil. In this ugly is actually the seed of renewal. In that mud is the topsoil that washed off the land upstream. It contains more than trash it also contains rich nutrients. Floods don’t just wash away carefully laid-out plans and landscapes. They also bring new beginnings.
Almost anything can grow in the rich soil of a flood plain. The banks of the Nile river were called the “breadbasket” of Egypt. Much of the ancient world relied upon Egypt for grain. In the middle of the twentieth century Egypt built a dam. It was a wonder of engineering. It also had an unanticipated negative impact on the productive power of the Nile basin’s crop production. Egypt began to need to import grain for its’ own use. Over thousands of years those living and working along the Nile lived with the difficulty of regular flood. In an effort to improve the situation they demonstrated on a massive and measurable scale how beneficial flooding actually is to agricultural production.
Sometimes the very seasons that seem to destroy us, contain within the tragedy, the reconstructive force to enable us to remain fruitful.
Living near a river has taught me about loss and rebirth. My thoughts and prayers are with all of those living with flooding. I have been blessed to live mainly just beyond the river’s usual reach. One can never be certain with a river. In the sixty years the home has been in the family the river has never come into the living space. I still hold respect for the river, since it has reclaimed the cellar on a number of occasions. The land around the house is on loan from the river and could be reclaimed next week. It has also deposited an incredible supply of rich topsoil. Anything will grow near the river. My walk today led past hollyhocks in a second flush, roses still profusely in bloom and one tree turned golden. Blessing and woe, I saw numerous dandelions also. River’s are beautiful and powerful. Respect and appreciate the wonders God made.