We are knee deep in a river, searching for water

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We are knee deep in a river, searching for water.  We are part of an invisible river, but we are so distracted by outer things and what we imagine they could mean to us that we lose contact with the source of our own Being.  When we are caught in desire, in form, in externals, we are pulled out of ourselves into a fantasy world, a desire world.  We lose touch with the invisible river, the waters of life, through our identification with unconscious inner processes and with outer demands.  — Kabir Helminski, Living Presence, p. 25

The story of Jacob wrestling with the angel (Genesis 32) means more and more to me the older I get.  He’s an anxious mess as he awaits the arrival of his brother, Esau, whom he assumes is seeking revenge.  He sends his family and possessions across the Jabbok stream, and then finds himself in a wrestling match that leaves him with a life-long limp.

Jacob sends the externals away.  Without his family and possessions there to define him, he has to wrestle “a man.”  And then he limps.  Water is always somewhere in these stories… I see Jacob limping through that water that he’d earlier sent his family across.

Helminski talks about the struggle to balance the inner and the outer.  We really DO have external obligations.  Many seekers over the centuries have assumed that the externals are such a distraction that we must eliminate them all by becoming hermits, buy rejecting culture, by moving in to the monestary.  However, the Sufism of Helminski, and the Christianity that I embrace, insists that we are called to unpack who God created us to be without rejecting the externals.

It seems we always underestimate how difficult this is to do.  It seems we have to grow exhausted, depressed, and anxious before we will stop and ask, “What’s going on here?”

Do you need to take a moment to consider the external pressures that most define you, and hence terrorize you?

We are knee deep in a river, searching for water.

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About Wes Eades

I've been a pastoral counselor, marital therapist, and overall listening ear since about 1989 or so.
This entry was posted in Anxiety, Depression, Spiritual Formation. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to We are knee deep in a river, searching for water

  1. Emily says:

    I like what you wrote here Wes. Reminds me of the old Spiritual song, “Wade in the Water, wade in the water children… God’s gonna trouble the water.” In the water… is where we are reborn. Christ reminds us in John 2, “No one can enter the Kingdom unless he is born or water and of the Spirit.” Probably not the same water you might be talking about Wes – but I’d venture to say, it’s the same struggle of being reborn into a blessing. A struggle within us and out side of ourselves not just to balance, but to grow and mature. To be reborn into something, someone new. I’m glad we know the second half of Jacob’s story… that he could still limp through the water… and not drown in it. Nor did he have any possessions or people to drag him under while he crossed. Maybe the water experience is a lot like the struggle with “the man” in that the struggle is a blessing which defines who we become.

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