…You can’t step in the same river twice! The water’s always changing, always flowing. But people I guess can’t live like that, We all must pay a price;to be safe we lose our chance of ever knowing… What’s around the river bend!”
If you recall, these lyrics come from Disney’s Pocahontas. You remember, that early 90’s film that was overshadowed by the Lion King, the one where they made Pocahontas into a 25-year-old Indian Barbie who has a love affair with a Mel Gibsoned John Smith? The movie, as a whole, was really ridiculous. Not only did it destroy any chance of being historically accurate, but it also conveniently had cute, little, furry characters predestined to be marketed in toy stores across America.
Despite its flaws, the movie is redeemed, at least partly, by the song, Just Around the River Bend. Now, I may be biased, as I was raised by, and partially in, the Hudson River. Rivers have a special place in my heart. Indeed, I claim the Hudson River as my own: I am one with the River, I am the River Queen. I identify wholeheartedly with FDR who once said, “I am pure Hudson River when it comes down to it.” That river is in my blood (possibly even literally, as yesterday a big wave whacked me clear in the face and got down my throat).
Pocahontas was right in saying that we can never step in the same river twice. The River never even looks the same from one day to the next. Though there are certain things I can predict about the River, such as how northwest winds are the steadiest and South winds carry a northerly current that potentially could take you to Albany, the River is nonetheless full of surprises. Yesterday, for instance, while sitting on the rocks at near high tide, the waves splashed up underneath my legs and made the most wonderful, robust flagellant noises. I felt pressed to giggle (It wasn’t me, I swear!). That added to the elegant glistening of the setting sun and the gentle westerly breezes blowing my hair away from my face, I began to sing praises to God for his mighty waters.
Pocahontas’s song also makes the interesting parallel between rivers and people. People tend to be reluctant to change and flow. But why should we try to be beavers by incessantly making dams? Surely there are times when we should refuse to go along with the flow, such as with Naziism, or relativism, or other -if-your-friend-jumps-off-a-bridge-will-you-go-too situations. But most of the time, going with the flow is an excellent strategy. This is especially true, it seems to me, when safe in the Hands of God, as we are, and when He is in control, which He is.
I empathize greatly with Pocahontas when she sings, “Why do all my dreams extend just beyond the River bend?” It seems that I always want to know what is ahead. There are several reasons for this, most of which have to do with my own impatience. First, I am impatient with God that I do not have the gift of prophecy. Why do I want this gift? Well, wouldn’t you like to know what is to come in the hopes of being able to improve upon it? What if disaster looms, could we not prepare better with such a gift? But alas, this is not for us to know. I am impatient that I cannot know even the good things, such as my calling or callings in life. At the moment I feel like a tightened corkscrew spring, ready to burst forth into a life full of opportunities. Just what is holding me back at the moment, I don’t quite know. God, though an excellent teacher, is slow (in Emily time) to teach. I feel weary constantly holding in all of this potential energy, and Iyearn painfully to see what lies ahead.
Perhaps this is all to deep of an analysis for a movie, and a Disney movie at that. I say phooey. Even Disney movies, however unintentionally, have fodder for discussion. Just don’t get me started on Beauty and the Beast.