Kayaking in the Cold

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, “rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:38 (NIV)

After last winter’s polar vortex, the melting river ice had nowhere to go, so the water sat on top of still-frozen farmland in Nebraska and Western Iowa, flooding it and capturing the attention of the news. Where I live in Dubuque, Iowa, our troubles were comparatively small. Banks of snow turned into blocks of ice, which took up parking spaces in our church lot, before melting into messy mud.

But they also melted into strange new high waters that tempted kayakers out before the weather was warm. Little Catfish Creek was so high it made surprising lakes around the city. We jumped at the chance to float over parks and between tall trees. We paddled under highways and over railroad tracks. To paraphrase the philosopher Heroclitus, you can never step in the same river twice. Those weird river conditions might never occur in the same way again. We had to experience them.

Environmental experts write wisely about the problems of human attempts to restrain our rivers, and I see it too on the banks of the Mississippi, but just for the record, the Bible said it all first. The river wants to flow where it wants to flow, usually wider and more generous in its scope than we human beings are comfortable with.

God’s grace and mercy are like that. Though we try to rein it all in with our rules, our punishments, and our walls, grace wants to go where it wants to go. Mercy wants to flow widely.


Let it flow freely through me, God, let the river of grace flow wide and through me. Amen.

16177.jpg About the Author
Lillian Daniel’s new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa