Monday, March 06, 2017

Church of the Running Water

On most Sundays I would make every effort to go to church. MY church.

Though initially deathly afraid of quicksand upon moving from Colorado as a child - a fear I gained while sitting in Grandma Ruby's lap as we watched a cowboy in an Old Western film die in it - I made swift friends with the Ohio land when we finally settled there. A stream wound its way through the back edge of our six acres, and I assigned myself as its keeper. Sunday mornings were the days to do this work, alone. Occasionally I was accompanied by our dog Sheba if she wasn't in the barking mood, and if she was, in the house she was left. 

It would inevitably rain, bringing out the scents of wet leaves and rich earth. I watched the water and gauged its swiftness, and if wearing Mom or Dad's too-big moon boots, I'd carefully cross it to reach the repeat-trek path on the other side.

​The edges of the stream crunched in fragile shale, and if I gingerly stepped and cautiously moved small stones in the cold water without stirring up sediment, I could find crawdads, almost transparent in their newness. I carried a large stick with me, and used it not to climb steep slopes, but to dislodge mounds of rust-leaf and black-stick natural debris that had collected in pockets of the stream. 

It was very important to me to allow the Rushing Forward, to assist the Clearing, to invite the Clarity, to remove the Holding Back. 

​Hours were spent in the woods, writing / singing a song or concocting a story while straddling a large log slippery with moss, or carving into the hillside a boot-wide toehold, or looking for small fish or worms or ants or mice. The sound of the water was music. I had names for areas of the stream where it had carved out round-sided pools, where it crashed mightily in tiny waterfalls, where it moved slowly enough you could see through to the multi-colored wonder of its bed-pebbles. I knew the stream like the back of my hand, and rounding every turn brought sheer delight, every time. I'd watch for gnomes. I'd listen for fairies. I'd delay going back home, inviting anything that would help me anchor myself in my middle-and-high school chaos. A place to heal. This, my sacred space. My church. Where I felt at home, connected, at one with Something.

That house is gone now. 
It was bulldozed just over a week ago.  
The land has been cleared and terraformed. 
I will never see that stream again. 
I can never go back.
The end of an era.

We find our refuge. 
And we find it again. 
A new era, whether we like it or not.

How will we step in?


Trista Hill is a professional harpist and fine artist, creativity coach, educator in the arts, and Board-Certified Music Therapist. What her formal degrees in music and art gave her pale in comparsion to the gifts she's experienced in working with creatives just like you. Visit her website — — for links to her monthly letter, blog, listening library & compositions, performances, and offerings to further you along your own glorious creative journey.  

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