In Time of Flood

Downtown Hamburg, Iowa

Image by jimmywayne via Flickr

The river on my website is the East Nishnabotna, which empties into the Missouri near Hamburg, Iowa.  The river’s peaceful in my photograph, but Hamburg is under water this year.

I remember the daily trips to the bridge north of town where we could watch the river rising or falling, gauge it by marks on the bridge, and estimate how’d get flooded out and how bad it would be.

Rivers aren’t the only ways we experience floods, though.   Spiritual teachers know floods often wash out old patterns and bring us to the experiences that end with initiation also known as empowerment on a new level.

So how do you live through a flood?  Physically, of course, you say what you can, then you either go back to rebuild or start again.

As creative people, we do three things:

1.  We work through the flood times.   If you write, as I do, you continue to work in your journal, add words to your story, or create poems out of strong emotions.   You let the habit sustain you … and there will be time later for editing and revision.   You make your stake by showing up at the page just as those facing physical floods make their by boarding up windows and building dams.

2.  You reach out to others–through groups like the Red Cross for physical floods or prayers, hugs, and showing up in social media during the more personal flood times.   Isolation doesn’t make us more human, and all humans have flood times.   We grow by sharing, not by hiding.

3.  In the end, you make art.   A flood from my childhood became the opening paragraph of a short story.   I used the rain I remembered and realized later how well that rain and that threatened flood stood as a metaphor for the emotional change my heroine and her friend faced.   That’s the great thing about art.   Life gives us raw materials, and our own experience composts them into the material of our work.

4.  Gratitude for what remains.   And something always does remain.  Sometimes it’s just memories.   Sometimes it’s family.   But there’s always something.   A gratitude journal–five daily records of things or people that spark gratitude in your life–keeps hope thriving and sponsors renewal.

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