By Bill Harley
Life is like a river—long and winding—that leads ultimately to the ocean. Each of us is in our own boat on this river; and most of us are not clear about the purpose or nature of the journey. We are just trying to find our way and learn as we go.
There are many currents in the river pushing and pulling us in various directions. What currents should we submit to and which should we resist? We are faced with the challenge of learning to “read” the river. One kind of ripple on the water’s surface may indicate shallows on which we could run aground and get stuck. Another pattern on the water may indicate an underwater deadhead that could rip a hole in our hull and sink us. Still another water pattern may indicate rapids that could either speed our journey or capsize our boat. Sometimes the river divides and the currents could either carry us down the main channel toward the ocean or into an off chute that is clogged with brush, rocks or swampy overgrowth. As we travel down the river, we witness many who have failed to read the river and have fallen victim to its perils.
In addition to the water currents in the river, there are many and various forces blowing over the surface of the water. The passion-driven winds of competitive consumer culture and partisan political discourse can blow us here and there, upstream, downstream and across-stream distracting us from the river’s onward march. Which forces will expedite our journey and which will entangle us in misdirection?
If we are not clear about the ultimate purposes of the river journey and which currents are our friends and which our foes, we are at the mercy of both the river’s changing currents and the various forces blowing over the water’s surface. We can not truly navigate the river because we are not clear about the nature of the destination or which river forces are aiding our journey.
Most people assume that the purpose of this river journey is an existential question that cannot be answered. Years ago, Jean and I wondered about this and decided to research the answers in the only repositories that have been progressively exploring this question throughout human history—the scriptures of the major world religions—humankind’s common faith heritage. And a funny thing happened. We found consensus about the river journey. We discovered that the purposes of the journey are to learn to know and love the evidences of the Creator’s hand in and along the river; to develop spiritual attributes such as compassion, humility, and integrity and exercise them in our interactions with others during the journey; and to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization both on the river and along its banks.
We also discovered consensus in the world’s Holy Books about which currents of the river we need to navigate toward because they truly aid our journey. These currents include those that move us toward spiritual reality; those that draw forth our true self; those that move us toward the guided condition; those that move us toward spiritual growth; and those that move us toward collaborative rather than adversarial human interactions.
We discovered that when we navigate the river of life honoring these three purposes and yielding only to these helpful river currents, we ultimately arrive at the ocean; and recognize it as the ocean of reunion with our Creator.
We packed our first book with many more insights, maps and navigational tools to expedite your river journey. The book is entitled, “Now That I’m Here, What Should I Be Doing?” We hope our findings will transform your life journey.