I have decided I like rivers. I used to want to retire by the seaside (David still does!) but now I’m thinking a house on a river bank would be much more peaceful.
There’s all that back and forth business with the sea: tides rush in and drag out and then, if you’re out on the water there’s plenty of bobbing up and down as well.
Restful? I don’t think so.
You know where you stand with a river, it’s just there and it flows and amazingly it just keeps on flowing. It’s a such a lovely analogy of grace, no wonder the Bible refers to rivers so often (The river in Psalm 1, Ezekiels’ river into which he’s invited to paddle and then wade, the river of life flowing through the Celestial city). Rivers contain life and bring life. Yes, I know they do flood and they can be dangerous so we’ll look for a house set a little way back (this a pipe dream by the way, retirement is years away!) but the idea of being near enough to contemplate a river feels utterly delightful.
There has been a beautiful TV documentary recently called Halcyon River Diaries, chronicling the life of a family and the life of the river they live beside. Insightful and delightful in both aspects.
I found a river in Nottingham a few months ago. Given that it’s a fairly big river, the Trent, it took me a long time to find it. I had taken my bike to college and on my afternoon off I would set off in a different direction every week looking for the countryside. It took me till week 3 to find the great outdoors, mind you a map would have helped! I discovered Attenborough Nature Reserve, a wonderfully watery place which lies alongside the River Trent on the south side of Nottingham. You can cycle for about 5 miles along the river bank itself and there are also lots of paths around the beautiful lakes created out of old gravel pits. There is even a cafe, I recommend the flapjack.
Last year I swam in the Colorado, I was meant to be rafting at the time but the lure of actually being in the water was just too great. Plunging in, the first surprise was how cold it was given the heat in the canyon it flowed through. The second suprise was the powerful current, you didn’t need to swim, you just needed to stay afloat and and lift your feet out of the way of anything on the river bed that might snag you. It was awesome, being carried along by something powerfully unstoppable, something bracingly refreshing, something that needed respect and commanded awe. So many analogies there!
Just recently the words of a worship song has reminded me of all the happy times I’ve spent by or in rivers.
‘Over the moutains and the sea,
Your river runs with love for me,
And I will daily lift my hands,
And let the healer set me free
… I will sing of your love forever’
River, wash over me…
For info on the place in Nottingham go to