Singing in the creases of our hills

“The little stream sings

in the crease of the hill.

It is the water of life.  It knows

nothing of death, nothing.”

There is more to this Wendell Berry poem (“Sabbaths 2003, IV”) but these first words cause my mind to wander.  I recall streams, and then full-fledged waterfalls, from my childhood and from my living and travels since: the cool, clear waterfall that spills over slick black slate in a hidden pine-filled ravine on a Nebraska ranch,  the cascading sheet that pours from head-tilting heights at Multnomah Falls, the slender fall that is barely visible in the verdant Hawaiian paradise.  All these still sing to me, and I wonder: is it true?  Has water somehow escaped the infections of the Fall?  Has Christ’s metaphor of living water somehow redeemed our streams already?  On that day that hails the new heavens and the new earth will they alone say, “But we’re already perfect!”?

Merely thinking of perfection always seems to invite its opposite, and I now remember the red-brown waters of my grandpa’s creek – mosquitoes hovering to defend their silty haven.  Yards away were stenchy, stagnant puddles – the water filled hoof prints of cattle and their manure. Far from the farm, determined black algae insisted on clinging to the pebbly crevices of our backyard swimming pool.  Did Berry get it wrong – this idea of water knowing nothing of death?

No.  Berry’s words speak of running water, a “stream.”  It can sing because it is ever fleeing the temptations of this world, the snare of sitting still in laziness.  Running water revels in doing what it was created to do, tickling sand and rocks, bubbling and babbling, spilling over outstretched thirsty tongues.  It does not stop to welcome infection and disease, but rather sweeps up and carries mud and gravel to the places they belong, like a gentle mother depositing her child back into its crib for the thousandth time.  This is why Berry can say “it is the water of life.”  The challenge in this life, where all water waits for its redemption, is to be a stream, ever flowing for the purposes of our sanctification.  When we are “still water” may it be because of a deep and confident faith in God’s purposes.


9 thoughts on “Singing in the creases of our hills

  1. I am so impressed at your deep thoughts, even after so much teaching! I trust all is going well! We saw that another one has left the nest. May the Lord bless Katie as she explores her gifts!

    My trip to Indiana for my parents 65th wedding anniversary was such a gift. It was the first trip this year that was not for a crisis there! I had such sweet times of singing gospel hymns with my mom and reading the Bible to her and praying with her. Such sweet memories they made!

    Joy! Sharon


    1. Thank you, Sharon. It was good to think a little beyond first grade; I didn’t know if I still had it in me! 🙂 So happy for you having such a special time with your mom. Love to you and Terry…

  2. I drove past Multnomah Falls and hiked past many other waterfalls last Friday, provoking many thoughts of our Creator! I love your thoughts (and Berry’s poem) as the sound of falls and rushing streams are fresh on my mind. Love you!

    1. Ragazzi!!!! Una cosa che non c’entra nulla con il post. Amanti della ragazza drago, l’ultimo libro è intitolato &#m280;Lࢩulti8a battaglia” e su internet si può comprare ORA a 15 euro o meno, non mi ricordo! MI PARE fosse sull’amazon

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