The Long and Beautiful River

A friend of mine from West Virginia, an artist and teacher and prophetic leader who is following my blog here, asked me “What does the name Willamette mean?  Is it from William?”  I didn’t know, and loved the question, loved it.  And feel a little remiss, like why didn’t I ask that question?  I take so much for granted sometimes.

So, as with most things, it’s not simple.  Wikipedia says its from a Clackamas Indian Village name from around 1793.  I know that the Kalapuya tribe lived here until the early 1920s, when they were “removed” from this part of the river and relocated somewhere else, by white settlers.  Gulp.  For them, the word Wallamet means Spillwater, referring to the Willamette Falls in Oregon City.  Or so this particular story goes.  Another story says that Wallamet means “The long and beautiful river”, or “Rainwaters along the river”.

I pick “The Long and Beautiful River“, how about you?  Although Rain Waters Along the River is poetic and surely apt.  A tough choice.

Meanwhile, the rains are back for now, and the river is rising.  Nice ring to it: the river is rising!  Yeah!  Like Easter.  Finally.  Not really over the banks, but a decent flow going on now.  And lots of new snow in the mountains.  One of the things I love about our holy river:  it speaks to me daily about the ocean, and sings alleluia about our Cascade mountain range as well.  Who needs social media when we can commune like this!

I learned a new word about the river, by the way.  I read that the water “takes up residence” in the river through the Portland area for about 4 to 5 days.  That means that it takes about that long for the water to get from here to the Columbia River.  I’ve been wondering about that.  Taking up residence.  Residing.  Depending on water levels.  Depending on how big a hurry she is to merge into her embrace with the Columbia.

Our long and beautiful river – from Waldo Lake to the Columbia.  Such a long journey.



About susankerrshawn

Retired Hakomi therapist and body worker; community activist; writer; environmentalist. Happily married to an amazing man. Thinking about many things as I reflect on my nearby river, the Willamette, a trustworthy spiritual guide if there ever was one! And how it is to live with a terminal diagnosis of kidney cancer.
This entry was posted in Catholicism, Community, Kalapuya Native tribe, Nature, Spirituality, The river, Tides. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Long and Beautiful River

  1. The Maori have recently negotiated an agreement with the gov’t of New Zealand, that a specific river has the legal status of a person. They and the gov’t will each appoint one protector-person to represent this river’s interests. The agreement is fascinating, if not perfect. It was covered in the current Utne Reader, which is not yet (Wed.) online.

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