A River Runs Through It

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.

I am haunted by waters.

These are the closing words of Norman Maclean’s novella A River Runs Through It, as well as the movie based on it. It is one of the most moving moments of any movie I’ve ever seen. As you may recall, by the end of the story, Norman is an old man standing in the Big Blackfoot River fly fishing, just as his Presbyterian pastor father taught him.

As is the fate of so many, all those Norman loved are gone. The words under the rocks are theirs. He recalls them, so I suppose they are not really gone. That is an important lesson for all of us to remember.

Like the River, we move ever onward in our lives. We carry with us the words and wisdom, the love and laughter of many others. In fact, they are the River in which we “live and move and have our being.” We all have people who have been physically gone for quite some time, but, if we close our eyes, we can hear again not only their words but their voices. In a sense, they have never left us, for “love never ends” therefore life never ends.

As people of faith, we have been taught that repeatedly, but sometimes we forget. Norman is right, though. “Eventually all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” We are a part of that River. We always will be. The only question is if we can trust the River to carry us along as it has those we have loved. Can you trust the River with your future, even your eternity? Maybe that is so difficult because we are not sure we are worthy of the River’s trust. Can the River trust us?

The year is still new. It is not too late to trust Life and to give your whole self to the River’s flow.

by Michael Piazza
Co-Executive Director
Center for Progressive Renewal

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