Many Streams Make a River

As glaciers begin to melt, drops congregate on the ice, suddenly surrounded by an immense valley of possibility. The sharp air spikes every drop to full attention as the pull of every other drop begins a water-slide. The now uniform stream runs deep into the landscape, sinking to the bedrock and continuing the journey from there. Suddenly it’s apparent that there are hundreds of streams coalescing across the mountain range. Every peak spilling a gift down the mountain unto a carved path written by the ancestors of the rain. Eventually the many streams make a river. This scene is archetypal. This same story plays out in your own body, across the many mountains within you that hold your own veins. The embodiment of the river, of the branching of possibility of life lives within all of us. The waters tell a story of how the single drop became the river that then became the ocean.

Along this story, the water learns persistence as well as flexibility. When a rock is sturdy and set, water’s persistence convinces the rock to flow and water’s flexibility creatively dances around the rock. As water deposits in pockets of earth along the hillsides, the water learns to step into someone else’s shoes. To learn from someone else’s point of view allows them to gleam new skills, like how to shoot towards the life-giving rays of the day. The streams learn of the importance of branching deep and the importance of coming together. As the streams branch across the hillsides, they pool into swales, ponds, and paddies, extending the gift of life all across the valley. When the rivers become the ocean, the ocean runs deep diluting all that fall in. All that fall in are reborn deep in their belly, a mystery luminous with life.

These stories are passed down from mountain to hillside, plant to seed, animal to kin. They allow us to show up and embody the water and all of their stories. The many streams that make a river are teachers to us as earthlings of this planet and as souls of this world. Listen to the stories that are told all around us: the wind, the river, the forest, the sky, the sun, the moon. Every deity that was once worshiped and prayed upon is alive in the same way that you and I live and breathe. Their lessons live on in their own stories and in their own way. They are our teachers that pass down wisdom. In the same way, they coalesce to breathe life to this planet. Just like the many streams that make a river.


I was inspired by a conversation I had today while on a walk with two of my dearest friends in Forest Park. We ran into a man who spoke of the deep insights that he found through his time hiking through the Pacific Northwest. The deeper he went into nature, the more his thoughts calmed and soon all he could hear in his head was the wind that blew, the trees that shook, and the life that bloomed. He spoke of a book that he was writing about a river that eventually becomes the ocean and all of the lessons that they learn along the way. Thank you Eric.