“We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life, because of our quiet.” – William Butler Yeats, via Fr. Michael Doyle from Camden, N.J.
This time of summer, the river is anything but quiet. Yesterday I trotted down there with Tara, my younger dog, to watch: people swimming, being towed in inner tubes screaming behind power boats, a mob yelling at the top of their lungs aboard a jet boat from Portland. They turn around just upriver from us, before the tricky currents from the big waterfall at Oregon City and the junction with the Clackamas River, a huge watershed in its own right.
Did you know the Oregon City waterfall is the second biggest waterfall in the US, in terms of water quantity going over the falls? I had no idea! But then, I lived here for over 30 years and didn’t know that the Willamette was a tidal river, either.
A young couple came down river upright on those new boards that look like people are walking on water, calling out with both fear and delight as they were broad sided by enthusiastic waves from a motor boat towing a strong young man water skiing, jumping those waves, so proud of his youth and daring do. So proud. I could tell from the bank, how he looked to see who was watching. Ah, youth…
So much for still water or a still mind, for that matter. My mind is going every which way these days, aflutter with world affairs, family events, trying to regain my own health, an incessant chatter like our local squirrels, who, it turns out, aren’t even native, but yet another invasive species. So are we, I think. So are we.
One thing I really loved, learning the Centering Prayer from Fr. Thomas Keating: when you find yourself busy in your mind, just sit back, internally, along the river in your heart, and start over again, saying the word that you choose that brings it all into one point. And guess what?! You have a billion tries. So just start again.
I can do that. I can start over again. Again. For a fiercer life.