Thoughts about 'The River, The Mountain, and You'

Fighting a cold is no fun, especially when it’s so nice outside. I couldn’t help myself, however, so I went for a run through James Madison park. While running past people throwing frisbees, reading books and simply looking out at the beautifully calm and clear Lake Mendota, I listened to Rob Bell’s second, as he puts it, RobCast, not podcast.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to listen to The RobCast, give it a go. It is makes that pink stuff in my head start chuggin. Just in the first two (approx 30 mins each), I’ve gotten back into a mode of shifting thinking, and it feels SO GOOD!

The premise for this particular RobCast focuses on the following quote by an anonymous wise man:

At first, the river is a river,
and the mountain is a mountain.

And then, the river is no longer a river,
and the mountain is no longer a mountain.

And then later, the river is a river again,
and the mountain is a mountain again.

The simplicity and repetition of this cryptic quote resonated with me – and, as always, so did the things Rob had to say about it. Essentially, sometimes your worldview suddenly stop making sense and you need to rethink it (river’s not a river, mountains’s not a mountain). What once gave you sure footing, now makes you fall. And, as Rob says, it’s totally okay, normal, and is really a necessary aspect of life. However, sometimes, after stepping away and finding a perspective, what you’d lost, comes back into focus (the river is a river again!).

Rob covers these points and supports them with wonderful, inspiring examples with an eloquence that I can’t hope to achieve here – so I’ll leave the rest up to him if you’d like to give it a listen.

It just meant a lot to me on this day, when the sky was so blue, to feel good about where I am and who I am, with confidence that I can get to where I’m going. I’ve not been to church in a long time and I miss all the positive things I used to get from it. The community, for one, is something I sorely miss. Many people eager to go out into the world, trying to be part of something bigger than themselves. But I’ve accepted that that life, perspective, worldview, stopped making sense to me a couple years ago. I’ve been in a sort of comfortable limbo (a moratorium for all you psych majors out there! Woo hoo!) where words that once meant a lot to me, actions that once gave me life, fall flat. The river is not a river, and the mountain is not a mountain.

But sometimes, little glimmers bring me to moments where I start to reimagine what my rivers and mountains look like.

What about the ebb and flow of other people’s rivers and mountains? Rob Points out,

When somebody says, ‘I wanna make sense of this. Whatever I hold, I wanna hold it because I’ve chosen to hold it and I’ve thought it through and it’s real and it’s genuine.’ You’re never an opponent of that. You cheer them on. Because, when you have anxiety and fear, you are making the worst sales pitch ever for your world view. When you respond with negativity and condemnation and fear and suspicion and ‘How dare you read that book’ [etc]…you are teaching them a closed, narrow view of God’s big, beautiful, heartbreaking, exotic, fascinating world.

I don’t quite know where I fall on the belief spectrum. Call it God’s world, call it our world, call it a pale blue dot – I don’t really care, but I am definitely with you, and want to cheer for you if you’re are asking hard questions and following them to a purer form of truth. We may not all agree about what the purest form of truth is, however, but I suppose that’s kinda what this is all about.

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