Stream or Swamp?

Once, a long time ago, there was a river that flowed through the land, over hills and through valleys and across fields, finally ending up at the sea. It was a quite happy and contented stream – it had plenty of fish swimming in it, quiet pools with aquatic plant life, and lots and lots of fresh, clean water. Things were going swimmingly for this river, until one day it came to realization. “Hey, I do all this work, carrying fish and freshwater across the land, and then everything just ends up disappearing into the sea. That’s not fair. I want to keep my freshwater… the sea is already huge, why does it need even more from me? I want this to change.”

And so where the river joined the sea, it spoke to its friend the forest, and asked if it might fell a couple of older trees across the river mouth to stop its flow into the sea. That slowed things down a little bit, but the water still kept flowing out, out, out. So the river decided to find some contractors – the beavers arrived two weeks later. Slowly, day-by-day the river was pleased to see that the flow of its water to sea was diminishing. Finally, after a week’s worth of work, the dam was complete, and the sea stopped receiving fresh water. The river was ecstatic! Finally, it could keep all the water it had worked so hard to carry so far.

The stream’s satisfaction did not last long however. Because the water started piling up, and had nowhere to go. It soon started overflowing the river’s banks near the sea and spreading out across the land. This wasn’t so bad at first, but the soil down in this area was on the loose side, and pretty quickly, things started turning… swampy. And soon after that, it wasn’t just on the land, the soil and silt started flowing into the river itself. Within a couple of days, the river started to panic. This was all going horribly wrong. Instead of having more and more water, and becoming a bigger and bigger river, it was in danger of turning entirely into a swamp!

Out the call went to the contractors – fortunately the beavers had not gone far. They were shaking their heads, at the request to undo all the hard work they had just completed, but the money was good, so they went to work. It only took a few days to get the water flowing to the sea again, and another week or two for the soil to settle and the river to start flowing more cleanly. Finally, a month later, the river was able to sigh a big sigh of relief – things were finally pretty much back to normal.

Depending on our socioeconomic status, we all have different levels of abundance available to us. People all of different kinds of means share the resources they have with those in need, and the world in general. People of all different kind of means often are able to have a feeling of abundance in their lives. The question is, how do we handle the abundance we have? Are we more like a stream? Or more like a swamp? Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with swamps, swamps serve an important function in our ecosystems. But in terms of abundance, it seems to me that generally we’re better of striving to be more like the stream, and less like the swamp. Hoarding our abundance to ourselves doesn’t usually actually make us happier in the long run.

Abundance, of course, is our theme for November. I look forward to exploring this topic with all of you this month. May we flow together like a stream on this journey, and may we flow in our abundance like the stream – and not like the swamp.

See you in church!

peace, love, and blessings,

Rev. Seth