As I walked over a wooden footbridge with my Alaskan Malamutes this Maundy Thursday I paused to look down at the flowing water. Spring comes slowly to the Rockies and the run of water is nice. But why is it nice?
Slow water moving silently is pleasant enough. But the water that excites speaks and has places to go. This morning I not only stopped to look at the creek as it shrugged off a long winter's ice. I watched its speed and I listened to its voice, a voice I had not heard for 4 or 5 months. And what makes the water speak? What gives it its voice?
Gravity and volume which gives it a current gives it a voice. The call of the sea into which it will eventually be gathered (in this case, Hudson's Bay and the Arctic Ocean) also gives it a voice. And stones. The stones over which it leaps or the stones which it squeezes past give it a voice.
Without the small stones over which the creek makes its swift passage there wouldn't be much of a sound. Without the banks against which it rubs its shoulders there wouldn't be much of a cry. Without the larger stones or rocks or boulders it touches as it runs past there wouldn't be any music.
I listened and looked and a white rivulet made one kind of music, a white rapid another, a whole tumble of white water offered me the richness of the symphony or the rush of a jazz quintet or the shout of a rock band with lead guitars and keyboards and drums and the deep regular beating of the electric bass that never falters. Of course it made other music too. Silver and white and green music not of this earth that still is of this earth.
The stones make the music. The canoeist and the kayaker come looking for the stones and their music for there they will find the power and strength they want to test themselves against and, if they are successful, the exhilaration that comes from passing the test.
Of course, the test can damage and destroy too and the stones and rocks tear the bottom out of a canoe or kayak. But without the stones the test is not there. And without the stones the music is not there either.
Is this our life? The stones that give us rapids and white water and beautiful sounds are also the stones that strike and batter and break us? Is this the Jesus life? The stones that make him so important to us - the Cross, the Suffering, the Bleeding - are also the stones that strike and batter and break him?
Perhaps the whole earth and its stones and waters are a Symbol of Christ and his Passion. Perhaps the whole earth and it stones and waters are also a symbol of the human race and our own passions where we stumble along in Christ's footsteps whether we know it and acknowledge it or not.
Waters and stones. Never one without the other. Never the beauty without the danger. Never the music without the murmur, almost unheard, of death.
And then the death of death.