'The Rivers Ahead' by URC poet-minister, Lucy Berry

Image credit N. elladeeThe Bible is full of rivers - and other great bodies of water - into which Bible people go with more, or less, willingness ... Will we be cleansed or drowned? Will we cross or sink? And what is waiting on the other side? Baptism into truth isn't a one-off thing. But we stand, both as souls and as churches, at the brink of much that we neither choose nor understand. Shall we trust and jump in, or linger un-washed and un-travelled on familiar shores? 

 

Now a river flowed out of Eden.

On, past the guard, to the other side;

running away from the garden

branching in four, all wet and wide,

too dark, too cold to just walk in.

We had no heart for such a swim  

Little children, I say to you:

any old water will do.

 

The river ahead is shallow and slow

and full of writhing things below

crusted in scum and filmed with green;

far too dirty to make us clean.

Little children, I say to you:

any old water will do.

 

The river ahead is stony and deep

its banks are slimy, wet and steep

flowing as brisk as a water-spout.

We might get in, but not get out.

Little children, I say to you:

any old water will do.

 

The river ahead is passing this minute

junk and rubbish floating in it;

grime and grit and grim regret

and we’re too frightened to get wet.  

Little children, I say to you:

any old water will do.

 

The River Nile is full of blood,

the River Jordan in full flood,

the Lethe will flow our way one day

and truly we have lost the way.

Little children, I say to you:

any old water will do.

 

©Lucy Berry

PHOTO: N. (@elladee)/Unsplash

Lucy Berry is a poet, a mum, and a minister of the United Reformed Church. Her website is at www.lucyberry.com and she's available to perform, preach and lead workshops.