“on the bank of the river”
I recently read an interesting article about the Skagit River in Washington State. Never heard of it? Me either. Or is it “I either…” ? Yeah, let’s go with that one.
The article was really about salmon. The Skagit is home to several variety, and the article talked about how human interaction can make life more difficult for salmon (and no, I don’t mean by eating them, although there’s that, too.) It was about how the Skagit ~ along with many other American rivers ~ has been “cleaned up,” or redirected, by well-meaning people. Clearing logjams, and the woody debris that can collect in the river enabled it to flow more freely and more directly to Puget Sound.
Now, while that was good for boats and logging companies, it wasn’t great for the salmon. They need the pools of water that collect behind a clogged-up area. The females lay their eggs there, and then the males fertilize them.
And then they both die. The females and males, that is. Sad, but true.
But even that’s a good thing, nature-wise. The dead salmon are food for other animals in the area, so they too, are happier when nature’s allowed to run its course. So to speak. But since 1876, the river has been cleared thousands of times, and the salmon ~ and all the other critters ~ have suffered because of it.
Now, I’m not a tree-hugger. People need to work and eat, and sometimes nature pays the price for that. But it’s also true that we could do a better job of using this planet and its resources. So I think it’s a good idea to rethink conventions that have become a way of life, to see if, with our increased knowledge, we believe we should still be doing them.
Anyhow, that’s the gist of the article. But here’s the line that intrigued me: “The Skagit is its own river , but it could stand for almost any American river – dredged, bank-armored, dammed, diked, cleared of snags…”
With that comment, I started thinking not just about this one river, changed for the purposes of navigation and logging, but of all the many rivers that are changed, for all the many reasons, and the fact that sometimes the reasons are just aesthetic. And I thought to myself, why can’t we leave well enough alone? Why do we want “perfect” instead of unique? Or why do we decide that weeds can’t be there ~ just because they’re not the ones we paid money for? Rivers flow in crooked, meandering courses… flowers and trees grow in locations determined by birds and wind and fertile conditions.
And what we want from our flowers, we generally want from our lives, too. The things we choose, in the pattern that pleases us. Got that, Lord? Ready, go!
There is an unmistakable, often undiscovered beauty in following the path set before us. Go with His flow.