A few years ago I bought a set of Cousteau documentaries that included a four part documentary on the Danube. They followed it from the headwaters to the river’s mouth, telling the story of the damage. Especially what has come to light since the break up of the old USSR. Watching those programs birthed a journal entry and that what I’ve been reading since birthed this.
It gets so frustrating. I can “see” what I want to say. Can’t always get the words out.
So, where is the soul of a river? Is it just the river? Or does the river and its soul stretch beyond the channel and the meandering blue line on a map. The river is the ocean that gives up its moisture to the rains and snows. The river is winter ice and summer sun. The river is snow, rain and hail. The river is the animals that depend on it for water and forage, the trees that shade the banks and shelter the birds.
The river is the disappearing marshes and the migratory birds that nest in the reeds. The canals are the river and so are the drying wetlands that used to hold back the floods. The dams we build are the river and so are the fish blocked from their native spawning grounds. The river is the disappearing fish and the villagers and fishermen who depend on them for their livelihood. The river is the untreated chemical waste that leaches into ground water. It’s the sewage from overburdened, aging city systems. The river is the rain falling through air contaminated with radiation from nuclear plants that couldn’t be built to withstand every possible risk.
Perhaps the fish, the streams, the stones, the animals don’t need to prayers to bring them back to “God” whoever or whatever that may be. They never left. But there are other prayers. Thanksgiving that the water is clean, the sun is bright, food abundant. And there are prayers that cry out for justice. That those who have the power to destroy remember that they are part of the river too. That they will work to build, not to break. To create, not to destroy.
And in that spirit, the Gulf of Mexico is part of that river, and it’s screaming.