To trace the history of a river or a raindrop . . . is also to trace the history of the soul, the history of the mind descending and arising in the body. In both, we constantly seek and stumble upon divinity, which like feeding the lake, and the spring becoming a waterfall, feeds, spills, falls, and feeds itself all over again.
— (Gretel Ehrlich, Islands, The Universe, Home)
The word river comes to us through the good offices of the Middle English and Anglo-Norman rivere and the Vulgar Latin riparia, thence the proper Latin riparius and ripa all meaning "of a bank" or simply "bank". The word's closest kin is the adjective riparian, and we use it to describe the verdant lands along natural waterways and those who live there too. To be a riparian is a fine thing.
How can one not think of rivers on a day in late springtime when the sky is perfectly blue, and rivers in the Lanark Highlands are running free? In the cedar lined coves and quiet fields of their beginning places, a thousand and one northern tributaries have been liberated from the long white season and are lifting their wild voices.
The liberated waters sparkle in cool morning light, reflections of sky and clouds and trees filling every pool and eddy. After dark, the moon pours its light over everything and seems to be as much a dweller in the quiet waters as it does the sky above. Lone voices, choirs and symphonies, there is greening and rebirth and sheer jubilation in every note being sung, and what a metaphor for life and journeying! If I had been allowed to grant myself a name, that name would probably have been "River". As it happens, a young member of the family now wears the name, and I have high hopes that I will be around to explore rivers, lakes, puddles and tide pools with her in a few years.
Life and the cosmos are rivers flowing on and on. Here on earth, clouds, stars and moonlight stream over our heads at night, and concealed waters flow underneath our wandering feet. Rain, ice and snow in season, hidden streams, oceanic tides and currents, the salty life-giving blood rivers singing through our veins - all express Mother Earth in her perfect effortless ebb and flow.
Wherever we land up living out our days, we are surely never far from rivers of one sort or another, and they are fine motifs for wandering. If we are fortunate, we will call many rivers friends, learning their language and cadence, tracing the patterns of their ebbing and flowing, committing their rumbling chants and fluid harmonies to fragile memory — then the canticles of the rivers become the music of our journey.