Last summer, I camped by the Salmon River for the first time. The riverbanks spread wide their stony shores, the August waters low. I drove shuttle for kayakers and practiced the art of waiting by water. After a few hours, the water begins to speak.
Beneath a spring half moon, I’m back. Now the bars of rock are thin, rushed by water that flexes its green and fast muscles. Like men at a gym, this constant roil—noisy and strong. Yet gentle too, like mothers humming lullabies.
How do we hear the river?
When God speaks, we are often the crowd that hears thunder or angels—everything but his words.
I thought I heard the river telling of men and women. But I think it was also speaking of “other.” Of whatever it is I haven’t learned to listen to.
Perhaps the weight-lifting—wait-lifting—water is the sound of women building muscle beneath the frothy soft of their surface. Perhaps it is the song men sing when no one is listening. Perhaps it is every word we open our hearts to.
When we see an other approaching and we hear nothing but the rush of water, we pretend that’s the only sound a river makes. Oh the strength and sweetness we will miss.
And now I am off to listen to distant seas. Here’s to hearing.
Open my ears.