Along the Stillwater, Late August


It seemed like a good afternoon to seek enlightenment, so I asked myself where to turn.

“Turn toward that which brings you joy,” Self said. So I went to the river, not for the water, but for the stones. I knew who’d find me there, but I wasn’t trying to hide. God always follows me around when there’s any chance I’m going to be happy.

It was a difficult visit.

I did find joy. And silliness. Orange rocks with flecks of gold–fool’s gold. I’ve always been fond of fool’s gold. It masquerades, unashamed, as a precious metal, all the while aware of its ordinariness, cheerful and shiny in its temporary stone abode. I considered the eons that will go by before the river rolls this stone enough to free these flecks into sparkling sand. I realized my bones would be dust long before, and I sat down and cried.

Enlightenment. Illumination. Detachment. I wanted to fill up my soul for whatever lies ahead. That’s what I was doing and I wanted to do it by myself.

God knew this and came by anyway. And not only did God come by, She brought a friend. I did a double-take. Death had tagged along. I tried to be polite, but Death could tell I didn’t want to visit, and discretely moved a little ways away.

“I know I’m being rude,” I said to God. She was decked out in river regalia, gray eyebrows and wrinkly tan skin. Kindness twinkled in the bright blue eyes that held me in their piercing gaze.

“Yes,” God agreed. “But you know what you know, don’t you?”

All day, I’d been trying not to know what I knew. “You mean?” I said, quaking inside.


“How soon?”

“Sooner than later. Later than sooner.” God threw her flabby old arms around me. Clearly, God had gotten too much sun as a youngster. “Mortality is a lifestyle, honey. Not a destination. The event isn’t that important.”

“Then what is important?” I said, angrily. I was troubled. Shaken. Sad. Those arms were not attractive. The day had come apart.

“Come on over here,” God said to Death, who was still keeping a respectful distance, watching the water flow by. “We go way back, don’t we, Sonny?”

Death smiled and nodded, dark hair fluid on his shoulders. God turned back to me.

“What’s important is making the acquaintance,” God said. “Ironic, isn’t it? Knowing the dark lightens things up. It’s better to be ready. Aware.” Death nodded again.

“I am,” I said reluctantly. And I tried to be. I said hello to Death. I didn’t look away.

They both left. I sat on the river bank and watched as the sun colored the sky behind the cottonwoods. There were black spiders everywhere. The stones were crawling with them.  They like it along the river. I don’t know why.

6 thoughts on “Along the Stillwater, Late August

  1. Your words, these “short visits”, are helping me keep this whole crazy world in perspective right now. While I can “re-member” the immediacy of life in the face of cancer from a few (already 16) years ago, the rawness and the realness, as well as the beauty and the details of your honest God are a wonderful gift right now. Daily Meditations in interesting times.

    Liked by 1 person

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