Recently the idea of rapids came up as a metaphor. A wise participant of our morning meditation reflections is quoted, “I envision me simply turning sideways in the rapids so that I’m not the obstacle facing it. That’s a comforting metaphor for me.”

I’m living in a body that holds memories no longer useful to me. What do I do with the memories? I have anger. What do I do with the anger?

For so long I ate my anger into submission. I’ve curbed my excitement for life to quell my anger. My feet stand at the rim of a great empty hole once filled with hate and it is emptying slowly, leaving me with confusion.

From Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening

“What the salmon somehow know is how to turn their underside – from center to tail -into the powerful current coming at them, which hits them squarely and the impact then launches them out and further up the waterfall; to which their reaction is, again, to turn their underside back into the powerful current that, of course, again hits them squarely; and this successive impact launches them further out and up the waterfall. Their leaning into what they face bounces them further and further along their unlikely journey. “From a distance, it seems magical, as if these mighty fish are flying, conquering their element. In actuality, they are deeply at one with their element, vibrantly and thoroughly engaged in a compelling dance of turning toward- and- being hit squarely that moves them through water and air to the very source of their nature. In terms useful to the life of the spirit, the salmon are constantly faithful in exposing their underside to the current coming at them. Mysteriously, it is the physics of this courage that enables them to move through life as they know it so directly. We can learn from this very active paradox; for we, too, must be as faithful to living in the open if we are to stay real in the face of our daily experience. In order not to be swept away by what the days bring, we, too, must find a way to lean into the forces that hit us so squarely.”

Currents – by Judy Brown

Currents pull us,

tides, crosswinds.

We come out of an eddy

in a stream, into a

narrow place,

a curve where

water has a

power of its own.

The river has its strength,

the pull of stream downhill

in whitewater, around

a bend, the power of

the seas and oceans, too,

the tides.

And we have choices still

in how we are

within that flow,

as if reed-like we float

so that the current pours

within and through us,

or else in grasping not to go

to some new place,

we lodge crosswise

and broken against rocks,

safely unmoving and

yet crushed by force

of water pushing against us.

We have a choice,

not of the current,

but of the way

we turn ourselves

within its strength.

We cannot foil the tides

but we can learn the timing

and the grace of turning

so that the force of water

gives us strength,

and helps us on our way

to some new place we

Didn’t mean to go,

yet where we can arrive

in safety, with exhilaration,

gratitude, relief,

still whole and even more ourselves

for having found a way to be

in partnership with currents

we had not anticipated.

Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you. I’ve also been thinking about the rapids and how to navigate the rapids and that image of turning to the side. Adding the image of the salmon this morning, I’m realizing that those ways of navigating the rapids are still too scary. I don’t think I have the self-confidence to survive facing it full force and turning to my side scares me too. In dream classes, we are working with elemental forces. This month is the wind. What came to me was an image of a sailboat. And in trying to move forward into something like the wind, you tack. You get the sail full of the wind but you don’t go full-forward, you go to the side and you let the wind pull you back a little. Then the sail fills again and you tack to the side. I was able to work with that image better, it wasn’t as dangerous. I was learning the timing and force, working with nature. Without the feeling of being smacked by anything or feeling swept away. There’s participation and strength and being present and managing the wind. It’s not so scary to me.

  • Thank you. What came to me was the paradox of riding the waves and going with the flow but being in control at some level. Both of those are part of the journey. What also came to me was a canoe accident I was in going down a river. When we hit rapids, the canoe went sideways and that’s when it flipped over. Talking about the safety of going sideways, I had the opposite experience. Not going with the flow of the current. It was scary and difficult but in the end, it was fine. The experience stays with me because we lost control.