July 5, 2012, reflections on white water rafting

John 7:37b-38  says:  while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.  As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’

White water rafting is my idea of a great roller coaster type ride.  I love it.  As we came into Gardiner, MT. we saw some white water rafters and Jason said’ “I want to do that.”  And since we were going to be here for ten days we said, ‘Yes.’  Kevin and I then shared our experience of white water rafting.  I think the boys were surprised we had ever done anything so fun and exciting.  It was nice to recall old friends as we told our stories; the singles group at Cameron UMC and the group of us from Methesco: John, Julie, Kris, and Nan.

And now I was taking my two boys, age 13 and 15, out for a morning of white water rafting.  They had been canoeing   and kayaking some but this was the first time for white water rafting.   We chose an early morning trip at 9 a.m. with Wild West Rafting so we could do something else in the afternoon.  We had a lot to see in the park yet.  We suited up (wet suits) because the water was between 50 and 60 F.  We had one boat and a guide and two groups of folks –there was the three of us (Kevin decided to follow on the road and take pictures) and five from Missouri (two couples and a son who were traveling together).  It’s amazing how fast you get to know one another in a small boat in a one and half hour trip down the rapids.

Once down at the water our guide gave us our life preservers and our safety and paddle instructions.  We had two men from the other group in the front and they got soaked right away.  We went through class 2 and 3 rapids at this time of the season.    Later on the three young men took turns being in front and taking the brunt of the waves. They also jumped out to swim in a slower section of the river.

Despite the rapids it was a peaceful ride.  There is something about floating down a river that calms my spirit.  In the calmer parts of the river we would all talk and get to know one another and I would take those moments to look around and take in the view.   I noted the mountains and the guide pointed out landmarks like the Devil’s slide.  I saw an osprey and her nest.  I noted all the houses and flowers and rock formations along the banks of the river.  During the intense rapids one only focused on the boat and the instructions of our guide.

In every store we went in there were book marks and posters about ‘ Advice from….’ as a metaphor for life.  There were poems about mountains and lakes and bears and moose etc.  If I were to write about advice from ‘white water rafting’ as a metaphor for life I would say:   What I learned from whitewater rafting:

…there are calm places – eddies – where we can rest from paddling and rapids – just as in life – sometimes we have to go really fast – but hopefully there are times and places to slow down and rest and enjoy the current taking you to the next part of the journey, to chat and make friends, to note the scenery…

…there are rapids in the river as in our journey – the rapids caused the boat to rock and go up and down in the troughs or even turn us a little bit sideways – life has times like that too – when you are going so fast you feel like you are out of control and can’t guide your own path but have to go the way the world is taking you…

…but along the way there is a trusty guide to teach us, affirm us and keep us safe, to tell us when to paddle and when to rest…sometimes with all the screams and shouting and the roar of the river it’s hard to hear the instructions – just like in the relationship between us and God…

…we saw many people on our white water rafting trip – just like in life – some were close to us like those in the boat, some act as mentors and teachers as our 21 year old guide did, some were on other rafting trips, some were fishing, some were alongside the river living in their homes or driving by on the road – sometimes we travel together  and sometimes we pass each other without much interaction…

…and there are many ways to travel the same path; we went down the river in a raft others traveled beside on us on the road but we were all headed in the same direction but a slightly different path…

… and wherever we are and whichever path we take God goes with us…

…and we will meet the face of God in whoever we encounter on the journey and we don’t know how that encounter will deepen and change or instruct us…

It was great to be back on the river again to find the deep peace of God.   May the deep peace of the passing wave be yours on the journey wherever path you are on….

A view from the river….

Hi Kevin!

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