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River Diary: My Summer of
Grace, Solitude and 35 Geese
About the River Diary
The summer I turned 65, I made a sacred vow. I would sit by the river that runs behind my house in search of joy every day until God answered my call. I had just published my 21st book and I had no right to any complaints, but still I wanted more.
Accompanying me on my pilgrimage were the readings of mystics, saints and wise elders from a variety of spiritual and religious traditions, including Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, May Sarton, Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and many more. But it was the river, itself, that proved to be my greatest teacher.
What followis is a 60-page PDF of the diary I kept as I sat day by day, chronicling the dynamic tension between the pull of the past, concerns about the future and my deepest desire for merger with the divine. Did I succeed? And ultimately, Did it extract a bigger price than I had anticipated having to pay?
I invite you to join me on this pilgrimage and begin by asking you the questions that initiated it all for me : If what you really want in the end is to sit here with me enjoying the river, why don’t you just do it now?
The River Diary:
My Summer of Grace, Solitude and 35 Geese
Excerpt by Carol Orsborn
The river is so still and calm this morning, one must really look to see that it is flowing at all. One discovers only a hint of movement in the reflection of the treetops, where deep olive green meets the light mint of the reflected sky in a ragged edge and dappled spots here and there. But one can see this only if one becomes still and gentle, as well.
This is a challenge for someone who has been trained from early childhood to lie in bed every morning surveying the inner and external landscape with one question in mind. What do I need to be anxious about today? Every morning since, waking up has not been so mucha summons to the joy of the day as it is a call to arms. Of course, as each day unfolded, there have been unexpected pleasures, hard-won successes along with wounds and white flags. But still, in some hidden corner of my heart, I lie in bed with that old question still darting about: What do I need to be anxious about today?
The river this morning has an answer for me—a good one.
“Nothing”, the river says. “Nothing today. Today, you can choose to be free. Tomorrow, too. This is my summons to you: Joy. Only joy.”