The River of Love
It was summer. I was on a river trip with a group of women, all of us adventuring together on the Klamath River in far northern California, up near the Oregon border. I was paddling my kayak, drinking in the day, the beauty, the dappled sunshine glinting on the water’s surface. Underneath, though, I was worried. What if I got tossed?
Every serious river runner has to deal with this fear at some point. I’d been paddling the Klamath for years, a dozen times or more, managing to stay in the boat through countless rapids and getting pretty handy in the process. I’d “gone swimming” only once before, years back. But I knew that at some point the river would swoosh my little body out of the boat again and leave me floundering in the rush-and-tumble current, because that’s just how it is. You can’t do a lot of river running without that experience, and the more I kayaked, the closer I came to the inevitable.
I was lucky—it was a warm day. Coming up to a class three rapid, I paddled hard to align my boat with the perfect slot to slide me from smooth water into the churning torrent. As so often happens in whitewater, the slightest drop in my concentration would be my undoing. I darted a glance to “river right,” making sure to avoid some overhanging branches, then put my focus back on the slot ahead of me.
But that one glance cost me a microsecond I didn’t have, and the river wasn’t waiting around. I went sideways over the rapid, rolled upside down, and got shucked out of that little kayak so fast I couldn’t even think about it. I was swimming, and that was that. The water was zipping me along, my bright yellow boat bobbing merrily off to my left.
After the first shock of surprise, magic happened. I realized that the mighty Klamath River was holding me, carrying me, buoying me. I felt utterly safe in its embrace, and out of the blue, I began to cry. My warm salty tears met the sparkling river water, and we celebrated the truth that in this moment, there was nothing wrong, nothing scary, nothing to shrink from or avoid—just warm water carrying me downstream. The river felt strong and steadfast, covering all of me but my upturned face and knobby knees. As it took me, I relaxed into the safety of it, still crying with relief and new understanding. It was a moment I will never forget.
Kayaking or rafting can be a dangerous sport, and not every toss from a boat in swift water leads to an experience as ecstatic as mine on that wondrous summer day. Just the same, I gained a powerful lesson from the Klamath. All my fears, hesitations, and assumptions were laid bare in one drenching, cathartic moment, when I realized they were not true. The lesson was powerful because I was so aware of the metaphor: the water embracing me was alive and teaching me to trust, just as the water of every moment is also alive and permeating everything. It’s the river of life. And that day, I found out that it’s also the river of love.
The River of Life is the River of Love
In this book, I will show you how to feel the embrace of the river of love, no matter what has happened to you, no matter what you are experiencing, no matter where you’re headed. Even if you hit a rock or flip upside down and find yourself gasping for air, this forgiveness journey will help you. Whenever you are ready (and not a moment before), you can choose it. You aren’t the only one struggling, and there is a direction that will bring guidance and healing. You just need to learn how to let the river take you, teach you and bring you to peace.
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You’ve probably traveled from your little kayak of safe predictability to the big river of uncertainty many, many times throughout your life. The question is – do you kick and scream, avoid, fight back, complain and agonize as you splash down into the water? Or do you relax and trust, letting the river of life become the river of love?
This book explores the sacred link between what life brings and what love offers. Life is often wonderful, yet at times it can also be unbelievably hard to bear. Ordinarily, we learn to have faith in some parts of it and distrust the rest. For example, we admire the beauty of nature or the innocence of a child’s smile, but avoid the crimes, disasters and failures of our past. We make a split inside our minds: love is nice when you can get it, but life is hard and struggle is necessary.
Perhaps you’re a bit interested in the potential of forgiveness in your life, but you wonder, “If I forgive, does that mean I’m weak? Does it mean I’ll turn into a sap, or a clone, or a doormat? Will people use and abuse me if I forgive? Do I need to forget what happened, or will I become too passive or “airy fairy” if I forgive?” The answer is NO to all of that. Forgiveness is actually a workout for the soul to make you stronger and more loving and compassionate at the same time. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”
In this book, I’ll show you that the river of life is the river of love. Spirit lovingly teaches you the soul lessons you need by giving you your life – exactly as it is. In Part One, you’ll learn about the essential importance of your emotions to your forgiveness practice – scientifically, socially and culturally. Emotions link all of us into one family, as we feel the ups and downs of human life together.
Following the experiential steps in Part Two, you’ll take an honest look at your human experience and soul patterns. From deep within, you’ll pull forth a sincere willingness to release your grip on suffering and reach for trust in something bigger — a universal, loving force — that can accept and celebrate all of you. You will see that accepting yourself as you are, grimy and exalted, challenged and wise, can become a daily practice. A new way of being. Love, life and forgiveness are embracing you no matter how tumultuous your situation looks or feels. So get in the water and enjoy the ride!
Quote of the Day
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Katherine Ponder
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