Down to the river to pray

September 30, 2007



Down to the river to pray…


This past week or so I have been uncomfortable in so many ways – just not feeling like I fit in my skin and questioning what I am willing to do to “belong” and where my earliest wounds of attachment still ambush me in moments of uncertainty and when I am in the depths of change.


And in this space of almost inconsolable pain, I am also having moments of deep gratitude for the circle of women both online and face-to-face who support me. Allowing myself to be comforted is one of the first steps and it is the place I need to return to when I am forgetting the way.


Clarissa Pinkola Estes speaks of the Rio Abajo Rio and the church beneath the church. This past week as I skimmed through Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth – I remembered that the cathedrals, monuments to our lady, notre dame, the black madonna, are all on timeless sites of human attachment to the natural world. They are the places where we go to be closer to our own divinity and to see ourselves mirrored in some universal divinity.


In my pilgrimage after my father’s death, I followed a dream and a wise woman, and with the encouragement of Salmon Boy, I found myself in the desert, alone, wandering the land where Georgia O’Keefe collected bones. Did she sing flesh onto the bones before she captured them and wove them into her paintings?

I know the last several years I have been a bone collector and the singing of flesh has absorbed large volumes of time. As I look back for comfort, I am reminded of the water at Chimayo. After all my desert dreams of being so dry, I began to cry, to weep, to lament, to wail, to weep in the way that you don’t look so good when you are done.


This is when the water began to appear in my dreams. This is when my river rat guides appeared and showed me how to do the steep descent down the red rocky cliffs to get to the Colorado and the Havasupai.

So yesterday, I set out to visit the eastern waters and found my way through the backroads, taking no map and arriving at the Maury River. I climbed down the steep steps to the river and let her wash away my sins. My sins of unworthiness, not being enough, being unloved and unlovable, being instead of doing. I wish I could say I woke up this morning rejuvenated and wholy alive, but the river is low right now, waiting for the fall storms to cause it to fill up and spill out of its banks.


I can wait. I have faith in the river.







  1. I visited my favorite creek this morning for similar purposes. Can really relate to this post and how eloquently you expressed yourself.

  2. Is that THE Maury river that runs through Rockbridge County, VA? The river of my childhood? Beautiful!

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