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The Rock, the River and the Tree

David Karchere

On this International Women’s Day, I celebrate the ascendancy of women in the world today. I spoke at the Sunrise Ranch service this morning and read Maya Angelou’s profound poem “On the Pulse of Morning.”

It includes these words:

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am that Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved. 

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours—your Passages have been paid.  

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you. 

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, but if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for you.

The rock, the river and the tree are all symbols of our primal spirituality. Certainly, they are real entities in the natural world. They also remind us of primal elements of our human experience.

The rock is all that is stable, upon which we stand. It is the Rock of Reality—what is true and what is real that asks us to turn away from all that is false and unreal, all that is only man-made and not God-made. The Rock of Reality is not only the rock of physical things but the rock of things that we cannot see, but which are even more real than the physical things that we can see. It includes what is unchanging and eternal.

As we stand upon the Rock of Reality, something else happens. We find that we’re standing by the river. Standing at the riverside, we see and know the flow of life. We see it all around us. And perhaps we are not only standing at the riverside but we’re wading into the river, knowing the River of Life flowing through us, fully and freely and openly.

The River of Life is said to split at the Godhead into four great rivers, which are four great forces in our life experience: water, air, earth and fire—all part of the flow of the one river, the River of Life.

We stand upon the rock. We stand by the riverside and enter in and know the flow of the river. We claim what is ours to know, our primal spirituality, and we become a tree. We become a tree, deeply rooted in the Earth, deeply rooted in the deepest levels of Being, in the volcanic nature of Earth itself, with its molten core. And the urge of life, the urge of Creation, arises up through us in our rootedness. The compulsion of life is strong, and we feel it. And so we branch out into our worlds and give life.

In the rhythm of springtime, the leaves come out on our branches. Here in Colorado, it isn’t quite yet spring, and yet we feel spring coming. There are flocks of red-wing blackbirds in the valley, assembling at various places, singing their songs, raising a ruckus. I looked out my window this morning and there was a small flock of goldfinches on the tree in the backyard. There’s the coming of spring, and the sap comes up in the tree, and the leaves come out.

And the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)

Every springtime, the same is true with the Tree of Life that we have the opportunity to know. There is new life being born in the spring. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Centered in the past, centered in what’s dying in human culture, not standing on the Rock of Reality, we don’t know the river and we don’t become the tree. The spring comes around and human beings don’t grow their leaves. They don’t extend their healing influence out to their world. They don’t take advantage of the rebirth and the opportunity for new life and for healing. The leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. The leaves that we have to grow and extend out into the world and lift up to the sun are for our healing and the healing of the nations around us, the healing of our world, the healing for all that is broken and separate.

This is our primal spirituality. And so often, in human culture, we get it so wrong. We’ve been considering the life-giving nature of the God Center and the very natural response of the creative field in which we live, at every level, to that God Center. All our human flesh at every level loves and adores the God Center in us. And the more we become aware of it, the more that God Center enters into us, the more the heart melts and the mind opens, and the more the body responds. When we are on the Rock of Reality, the River of Life is flowing naturally and responding.

The symbolism of cymatics illustrates what is happening within a human being. There is the life-giving God Center and the flow of the river vibration into the field of human experience. That is what’s happening from the standpoint of the Rock of Reality. But so often, in human culture, something else happens. When the real Rock of Reality isn’t allowed to be the Rock of Reality—it isn’t embraced as what is real and foundational and primal in the human experience—we end up claiming something transitory as the rock. We cling to something of culture and say that this is our rock—this cultural thing, this belief, this pre-thunk thought, this dying element of human culture that has infected our consciousness; this fear, this resentment, this belief in how everybody should be. We’re holding on to that. That becomes our rock, and we sink to the bottom of the river, holding it. That humanly created rock isn’t vibrating with the God Center. It isn’t flowing with the river.

In cymatics experiments, the substance that vibrates to the vibration to create wondrous patterns is either a fluid or small pieces of a solid. If a large rock had vibration introduced into it, nothing much would happen for a very long time. That’s what happens when a human being clings to a rock present in their own consciousness.

The Alluvial Fan in nearby Rocky Mountain National Park was formed when, at 5:30 a.m. on July 15, 1982, Lawn Lake broke through the rocks that had contained it since the last ice age. The torrent of water swept trees and car-sized boulders for four miles down the mountainside. Where that torrent entered Fall River Valley, you can see boulders fanned out on the edge of the valley floor.

Perhaps that’s symbolic of what happens when the rocks in human experience meet the River of Life. What’s stronger, the river or those rocks? No question: the rocks are sent all over the place, and ultimately eroded. They become sand. In the cymatics experiments, sand moves with the vibration and takes on the pattern created by the vibration introduced. And so it is with the rocky things in the human experience. They can’t withstand the river, ultimately. They’re pulverized to the point where they can be re-patterned in the shape of reality, in the shape of the Rock of Reality, which is eternal, ever-present and ever-changing and ever-flowing. We become the tree for the healing of the nations.

The self-righteous person is clinging on to the rocks in consciousness, ultimately in victimhood. If you cling on to a rock in a river, you sink. You’re victimized by your clinging. That is what happens.

Does the world of reality contradict the self-righteous person? I don’t think so. The river isn’t contradicting that person holding on to the rock of human culture, which is bringing them down. The river just flows. The self-righteous person is left to stand there, wondering why they are drowning, wondering why their world isn’t coming alive. Meanwhile, springtime is bursting out, the river is flowing, and the Rock of Reality is present. The self-righteous person isn’t contradicted. They are passed by. That self-righteous experience is dissolved with the prayer that the consciousness of the person will awaken to the rock and to the river and to the tree that they are destined to become.

This is getting real about our life experience every day. Life is in some way a choice for us as human beings. It is a weird choice because it is almost no choice. Seeing the choice, what would you choose, other than to live? But, at the same time, it is a choice, because we have to consciously let go of the rocks that we are carrying to see the true Rock of Reality. We have to consciously choose to come by the river, to gather at the river and then enter the water together.

There is a well-known Christian hymn, “Shall We Gather at the River.” Here is the first verse and refrain:

Shall we gather at the river,
Where bright angel feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God? 

Refrain:
Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.

The rock, the river and the tree. Shall we gather at the river? We have a special part to play in the world today, so that these things are very especially brought to focus in our experience. They are for all people everywhere, but it is special for us because we are awakening to it. We are part of an awakening on this planet that involves many people from all walks of life and all paths and faiths and all nations. We are part of that awakening. And we are facing the same thing that every human being on the face of the Earth is facing. This includes every awakening person on the planet. For us, as Emissaries of Divine Light, we are here to do something profound as a gift to all those people. It’s not that we’re exempt from what they are experiencing. We are not exempt, and we are not “better than,” in any way. We are simply conscious of what is happening, and the fact that we are aware is a call to do our work with our human rocks—to let go of them, to let them be pulverized in the river, to stay centered in the Rock of Reality when the human rocks come up.

It’s all very well to have an idealistic and inspiring view of reality, but then that calls us to do our work. We do our work for ourselves so that we ourselves might truly live. But then we do our work as a gift to awakening people everywhere, and we trust and hope that they’ll do their work for us. But we can’t do anything about that. What we can do something about is our work, so that the flow of the river for us is strong, so that the tree is mighty and prolific, so that its branches extend out into the nations; so that is really happening, and so that reality is moving in the river and in the tree, and healing the world. Reality is greater than any other power at work in human culture. When the river is flowing fully in our culture, because we are not separate from the culture at large, it’s moving in world culture.

The rocks of the self-righteous human experience are not the Rock of Reality. The rocks of our victimhood are not the Rock of Reality. And no matter what comes up, the centering that we are sharing with each other right now must be strong enough so that when we come to the rocks in ourselves and in another person, we’re not persuaded to buy into those rocks. We’re the water that goes around. We’re the water that keeps on flowing because we are centered in the Rock of Reality. And so, we allow the rocks in human culture to dissolve so that the tree may live and grow and heal the nations.

To heal the nations, this nation has to heal: the nation of one, the nation of a family, the nation of a community. We as a nation, we have to heal. We have to become whole, not just fixed but thriving as the tree, flowing as the river, with the full force of life moving through us.

Today we are claiming our primal spirituality. John, who wrote Revelation, said it this way:

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Shall we gather by the river? Do you know where the river is? It is right where you are. The river is here. But of course, it’s everyplace else as well. To gather at the river, you have to know where the river is. You have to find the river. You have to forsake the rocks of human experience, come to see and know the Rock of Reality and find the river. Collectively, we have to find our river.

The river is essentially invisible, even though it has a physical manifestation. Perhaps if enough of our hearts and minds and spirits are gathered at the river in the unseen realms of human experience, others will see the gathering crowd and wonder if there might be a river there. Shall we gather at the river? Let there be a gathering crowd at the river in the unseen realms of Being that we share together, knowing that those unseen realms touch the life experience of every human being on the face of this planet. When one human being gathers at the river, they’re inviting and welcoming and encouraging all others to do the same. They are showing the way.

Yes, we’ll gather at the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river;
Gather with the saints at the river
That flows by the throne of God.


2 thoughts on “The Rock, the River and the Tree

  1. I love the imagery – simple icons – in this piece. Simple to grasp and as symbols for further meditation.

    There is much madness in these days; echos in the media. What better time to Be the rock, grow your tree anchored in truth, spread your leaves of healing love, flow with the river of truth.

    Love and Blessings

  2. wow!
    let us all gather at the River and drink and wash in the crystal clear waters
    Thanks for this reminder

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