The River of Life

The River of Life

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Today is my birthday. I am fifty-five years old, and thankful for every year. Tonight I get to babysit for my youngest grandchild, Lola, who is nine months old. I can’t wait! Tomorrow our family on my husband Ted’s side scatters the ashes of its matriarch, Ted’s elder sister, Joyce. Although she spent the the last half of her life in Dorchester, MA, she is coming Home to Newport, where she first began this adventure of Life.  The last stretch of her journey was difficult for Joyce. Her diabetes caused to have half first one leg amputated, then the other. The family will gather at our home. From the eldest member of the family, to the little ones, we will gather to remember her, with gratitude and thanksgiving.

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My husband Ted says that when he dies, he doesn’t want a lot of hoopla. He just wants his immediate family and closest friends, the ones you can count on one hand, to gather outside at Fort Adams State Park, where Ted and I ride every day on our bicycles. We got married there, under “our tree,” which is no longer there, but I see it in my mind’s eye. Besides, it is part of us. When he dies Ted wants me get a bench, in his memory, where people can sit and look at the ocean. In Newport they anchor these memorial benches on concrete. Ted wants to be cremated, and says it would be perfect if they could mix his ashes in with the concrete.

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He doesn’t want a lot of words, but does want me to play a song, “The River of Life,” by Jonathon Butler. The words to this song are amazing. I invite you to play it so you can hear the music.

Everyday, I see your face
Like a prayer, I pray each day
That my heart would be whole
And my soul be filled
And my mind nearing you, with you

With your arms open wide
I can see in my mind
Your letter just waiting for me

I run, I walk, I fly like a bird
(I run, I walk, I fly)
I swim to the sea …
(I swim to the sea)

But I’m drifting away
Yeah, to the river of life
Oh, to the river of life
You’re my river of life

Like a tower, you’re my grace
Like a shield, fear every place
Surrounding with angels, the millions above
I stand on the mountain top, you show me your love

The glory around you, is all on my head
Cleanse me from everything I’ve done
Everything I said

I walk, I run, I swim to the sea
(I walk, I run, I swim)
I fly like a bird, like the eagle with wings
(I fly)

And I fly to your arms, deep down inside
And I fly to your arms ‘cos you’re my river of life
(My river, my river, my river)
You’re the river of life
(My river, my river, my river)

Yeah, I fly to the river
I run to the ocean sea
I know the flowing in me
All the sounds that I hear inside of me

River, yeah
So and I run to the ocean, I circle the sea
To the river of my destiny, to the place where I’ll be
Safely in your arms tonight, ‘cos you’re the river of life
(The river, the river, the river)

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I am in the midst of reading William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience. James is a pragmatist and a psychologist who wrote in the year 1905. He writes about religion not on the institutional level, but on the level of the personal experience of famous people of faith, as well as of everyday people, the people James works with as patients. He says that all people, atheists as well as people of faith, have to come to grips with the same issues, the struggles of this life, and ultimately, facing our own death. He writes that the difference is, that the immature of both persuasions fight against these struggles of life, and against death. Mature atheists, on the other hand, come to a place of resignation: the struggles are just part of life; that is just the way life is; death is a part of life. He writes that his experience of mature people of faith, on the other hand, is that we face the struggles of life, and even death itself, more passionately,  more enthusiastically (interesting that the word “enthusiasm literally means, “filled with God” “en-theos”). We embrace the whole thing, knowing that it is all part of the River of Life, knowing that the drop of water that we are joins the great stream, the great River, flowing ultimately to the Ocean that is You, O God. Rest in peace, Joyce, in that Ocean that is God.

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This day, may you see yourself as a part of this great River,
the River of Life.

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Linda Forsberg, Copyright June 10, 2015

Photos:  Linda at Glacier National Park; Ted, Fort Adams State Park, Newport; Ted and Sylvie, Bretton Point, Newport; Sailboat, from Dave’s Condo, Newport; Joyce and Sylvie; Joyce and Sylvie; Sunset, Newport

5 thoughts on “The River of Life”

  1. Happy Birthday Linda!
    I am glad you were born.
    So good to sing and talk.
    With a nod and a bow to you this day.

    dave

  2. Happy belated Birthday Linda as I just got this today the 11th. Hope you had a wonderful day and have many many more. It struck me that we’ve now know each other for 20 years come this July. Wow how time flies and you still look 35!

    frank

  3. Really shows the circle if life. I’m with Ted on the simplicity of observing my death. I like his ideas! Tho hopefully that won’t be happening anytime too soon! Happy belated birthday to you.

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