Thursday, March 27, 2008

The mind's muddy river....

Yesterday, I came upon a quote in Devotional Classics from Richard Foster. He was summarizing excerpts from Annie Dillard's book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek*. The quote is as follows:

"The world's spiritual geniuses seem to discover universally that the mind's muddy river, this ceaseless flow of trivia and trash cannot be dammed, and trying to dam it {completely} is a waste of effort that might lead to madness. Instead you must allow the muddy river to flow unheeded in the dim channels of consciousness; you raise your sights; you look along it, mildly, acknowledging its presence without interest and gazing beyond it into the realm of the real where subjects and objects act and rest purely without utterance."

Although, I'm not quite ready to place myself and my esteemed readers in the class of spiritual geniuses, I am willing to applaud our self-reflection efforts; our willingness to challenge the detritus of our minds' rivers, in order to sieve the logical from illogical, the truth from lie, God from idol, goodness from evil - all the while continuing with an attempt to keep our dams open for a manageable flow that inhibits self-destruction or harm to others.

With that pat on our backs, I have these questions:

Is your river flowing too fast this a.m.? Is your dam opened so widely that the spills are too complicated, the trash too thick to allow seeing, your routine too ingrained to change, the water too muddy to drink? Should you close the dam a little, restrict the flow in order to recollect what's important to you today and in your life to come? Should your oars (whoops did the Holy Spirit send a lifeboat?) lie idle just for a few moments in order for you to see through the muddy waters that may be obstructing your view across or through or into a clear view?

Have a great day and remember to wear a life jacket today if you need one!

photo by Sunrise Sister

*Annie Dillard - Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - 1998 Pulitzer Prize Winner - often compared to Thoreau's Walden Pond


  1. Huh? I think this is one of those introspective things. How to deal with those escapes me. I just read and wonder.

  2. Oh this is serendipitous. I'm still reading the Richard Rohr book I wrote about a while back, and he has an exercise about flowing water:
    "I ask you to imagine a river or stream. You're sitting on the bank, where boats and ships are sailing past. While the stream flows past your inner eye, I ask you to name each one of these vessels. For example one of the boats could be called "my anxiety about tomorrow". Or along comes the ship "objections to my husband", or the boat "oh I didn't do that well". Every judgement that you pass is one of those boats. Take the time to give each one of them a name, and then let it move on."
    I've found that exercise very helpful. It's the last bit that's crucial - let the boat sail on, don't try and jump aboard.

  3. Geezer - always glad to see your comments. Reading and wondering, huh? You almost snagged me there:)

    Tess - serendipitous? My whole week last week was about water, I kept reading about it, stepping in it, all around. I think the next post will bring all of those thoughts together.

    Thank you for both coming by.

  4. Hmmmm - good questions. Now that I am back in town and have accomplished some things that I let slide for a few weeks, I am able to glide down the river slowly, taking it all in. Sigh. Grateful for moments such as these.

  5. Glad to hear from you again!

  6. what a wonderful's curious to me that you dreamed of water the whole while i was on the water...i found floating upon the sea so perfect and simple that i am really having a hard time navigating these waters that right now feel way too muddy...clarity feels far away on the horizon, but even as i read this post and write this comment, it feels like a reach toward the life jacket.

    miss you! xoxox

  7. The life jacket is a good item to have along at all times - especially upon "re-entry." Taking a break from the complications of life is so soothing (a good float for me too) but again for me, I think probably makes the jumping back into the deep end of life feel even more threatening than when I tried to leave it behind.