As I crossed the low-water bridge on my walk this morning and marveled at the beautiful North Fork of the Shenandoah River, I recalled how different the river looks, depending on the amount of rain we've had. It was low today — lazy and meandering. It's hard to even imagine the ferocity it can display during a flood.

But no matter how great or massive the river might be—whether it's the little North Fork of the Shenandoah River or the mighty Mississippi, rivers are fed by creeks and streams — little creeks and streams that join together.

Each contributes a vital part to the whole.

Life is like a river, don't you think?

We, too, are fed by many small streams which, taken individually, might seem inconsequential, but seen as a whole, they make us who we are. The streams might be our faith, our friendships, our health, our mindset, our actions (or inactions).

As with real rivers, the streams and creeks of our lives enter at different places and provide different nutrients, but our own life-streams are braided and intertwined. They cross each other and affect each other in a myriad of marvelous and mysterious ways. This is why mindfulness is so important, because we want to be aware of the streams in our lives and take care they stay fresh and unpolluted.

From the book of Ecclesiastes, we know that to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven. But at any one time, it's important to recognize and be grateful for the streams that feed our souls and bodies.

And if any of those streams in our life is blocked, or stagnant, or polluted, we must pay attention and seek to make adjustments. Consider your four essential life connections: with God, with Self, with Others, and with Nature. If one is out of balance, it can throw all the others off too. Are you eating and sleeping well? Is a hurt or anger festering? Are you ignoring your gut feelings? Are you getting enough fresh air and exercise? Are you hanging around the wrong people? Are you focusing on trials instead of on blessings? Are you taking the time to abide with God? One of these is among the most likely culprits when I find my own life not running smoothly.

Just as environmentalists know that to preserve the purity of a large body of water, they must preserve the purity of every contributing stream all the way back to the headwaters, so must we do this to nourish our souls and live our most wholehearted life, no matter what the ebbs and flows might be at any time.

Photo credit: Indian Creek Falls in the Deep Creek Area near Bryson City, NC by Jill Lang


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