I was in a seething black rage the other day, and so I went down to the water. Jordan Stream runs clear and cold much of the year. Its waters descend from the mountains of Mount Desert Island and gather in Jordan Pond before continuing to the ocean. They run through a woods of mostly conifer, poplar and birch, where the only sound, apart from an occasional birdcall, is the rippling of the stream as it meanders over red, brown and deep gray granite stones. If this won’t calm the mind, nothing will.
Streams and rivers do a lot for us. They provide water and food. They irrigate our farmlands and replenish their soil. They transport both goods and people. Harnessing their power was the first step in the Industrial Revolution and the modern world as we know it. But we need to stop thinking of streams simply as public utilities that provide essential goods for human consumption.
They are places of great beauty and spiritual rebirth. None more so than the Jordan River – the real place where Jesus was baptized and the mythical destination that slaves sang of crossing to freedom, one way or another.
Today, the Jordan River is the source of fierce contention in the Middle East, where it is listed as one of the world's 100 most endangered ecological sites – another reminder that a stream is an ecosystem that supports the entire web of life, and a refuge from the world and, sometimes, from my own rage.