The story of my life as a river
I come from humble beginnings: Two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom bonded to form a single water molecule. Billions of these water molecules decided one day to congregate in one particular spot and then sprang as a sprightly spring from out of the ground. Thus began my life as a river.
Boiling turbulently out of the earth and tumbling over the surrounding rocks and gravel, my clean, clear stream proceeded to make a gentle dash across the flat level land of my boyhood. During those halcyon days, all I had to do was surrender to the pull of gravity, growing in volume, speed and strength as I did. From the air, from where God sits, I and my tributaries must have looked like a robustly growing tree with many branches.
The further I went the deeper I cut, gouging grooves and gorges, carving channels and canyons across the landscape. As a young man, I was a wild whitewater river. Making my great gash through the thick limestone bedrock of conformity and convention, I used my corrosive, rock-splitting power to cut valleys and score plains, unmindful of the damage I caused. I often overflowed my banks, spilled through the streets, flooded and drowned many hearts and affections. I meandered every which way I liked, beholden to nothing but my wayward will and whim.
Forming relationships with other bodies of water calmed me and forced me to settle down to the domesticity and placidness of lakes, above whose surface darted dragonflies, sometimes dragons.
In my youth I was a persistent sinner, committing many errors and mistakes. It was good, and it was bad. Falling from the state of grace became a habit for me and I was many times a waterfall that cascaded down from the dizzying height of iniquity into the narrow chasm of ignominy and disgrace.
At my lowest point, in my darkest hour, I stagnated into a dismal swamp. I covered myself with a blanket of soggy vegetable scum and went to sleep the sleep of the undead. My waters slowed and settled, became thick and heavy, like molasses left to age. For a time I hid myself from the world, spending part of my life as an underground river.
It was during such moments of deep depression that I heard God calling me, pulling me out of the hellholes into which I got myself stuck. His voice, by turns sibilant and susurrous, always led me out of the marshes and swamplands of my life.
All things bad come to an end in God’s good time. I am now an old doddering river, shorn of my rapids, eddies and whirlpools. I hear pebbles rumbling in my soul. I have been slowed down so much, perhaps by the mud and silt of the years, more certainly by the weight of my transgressions. Why, even sadness seems to me to come slow these days! My pastime now is to recall that distant spring when I was a spring, green and quick.
I feel that the destination for which I embarked on this journey is near. Already I hear the sighing and soughing of the surf, the thousand and one sounds of the sea. From the far end of the horizon, chevrons of whitecaps march and advance, coming closer and closer to me on a rising tide. I was a river and soon I will be one with the sea, my mother and my maker.
It is for such a purpose that I will dedicate the remaining days of my life to find me the sea where I can drop the mud by which I am encumbered, where I can discard the barnacles by which I am encrusted. The sea will deliver me from the burden of my existence and my mortality. My legacy will be the delta of silt that is the precipitate of all my days and deeds.
It is clear to me now that God is the sea toward which I have been flowing and moving all my winding, convoluted life, and all the tributaries that comprised the totality of my complex and complicated being while I lived will at one point converge in this one meeting place of the waters, flow into it and vanish in its vast and voluminous void.
My weary eyes will fall upon a shimmering expanse of shoreless, borderless sea, and my dark, black soul will take on the clean, clear color of the blue it was when I was a spring. I will be distilled and purified, my dirt rinsed away.
All the molecules I had been will rise up into the air and condense into mist or fog which will then rest among the branches of God’s tree like washing hung out to dry—clean, fresh and fragrant. As the sun rises, shafts of light will transect this fog, dissolve and disperse it. I will thereafter fall as rain in the mountains and be reborn and resurrected as a tiny brook, ready to begin the water cycle yet again.
As a new river, I will be known by a different name. I may cut a different gorge or follow a divergent course. But I will always be me.
God’s love must be understood through its illogic. He loves the lost and listless, the bent and broken, the unloved and unlovable. The madness of God is indeed imbued with the deepest, most profound logic! For is it not the creaking axle that gets the oil, the stain that gets our full attention, the lost sheep that cries out to be found? Is it not the soiled and sullied such as I am that need washing and cleaning?
Dear God in heaven: I surrender to the pull of Your gravity. When it is my turn, I will receive You with my heart breaking with joy! In my final moments, make me blind so that I can clearly see Your face!
All rivers go to the sea. All men go to God.
* * *
Antonio Calipjo Go (email@example.com) is the academic supervisor of Marian School of Quezon City.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.