Slowly you wade in a running brook,
Extinguishing its sounds 

-verse on Case #6, Blue Cliff Record, “Every day is a good day.”

At the foot of the hill, down from Panola Ridge, runs Drowning Creek, a medium sized stream that opens into the Kentucky River 8 miles downstream. It is said, as it is said about every creek, mountain, and small town hereabouts, Daniel Boone once camped here as he opened Kentucky to encroaching settlement. Drowning Creek is a typical Central/Eastern Kentucky Creek with a limestone creek bed, opening into small pools along its course. And as I get to know the topography of the area, I notice the Creek is always changing. So, too, the creek of my life, always changing. There is an old Christian hymn replete with creekside imagery, “My life flows on in endless song.”

Seasons and Change

Each season brings a change. The creek diminishes to a mere trickle in the summer time and in the Fall leaves flow downstream getting caught up in branches along the way; winter brings ice with water flowing beneath the surface and in Spring Drowning Creek leaves its banks inundating nearby fields. And of course, Drowning Creek changes moment by moment. Each time I hike down the hill, across the old railroad grade (another story) to the creek it is a different creek. As I slowly wade into the water it is never the same water. Drowning Creek, any flowing brook is change.

Wade In the Water

Underground Railroad conductor, Harriet Tubman, used the old spiritual “Wade in the Water” to encourage her passengers to get off the trail and into the creek to elude slavecatchers and Bloodhounds. Whether it is the slow trickle of summer or the deluge of spring, to wade in the water is to no longer hold yourself apart from life but to be in it, soaked through, no separation. Having stepped off the well trodden path you are life’s constant change. You move as life moves. To wade in the water is to awaken, to find yourself in the midst — the creek as it cascades, water over rock, each moment new. In the midst of life’s floods – joy, sadness, love and loneliness; in the frozen moments of not knowing what to do, or how to be, you are here in life. Here you find the Grace of each moment rising to meet you, the path not mapped out, but flowing and ever-changing. And you are a part of that.

Extinguishing the Sound

If I am immersed, fully in, present in each moment, not separate from any thing, how can a sound apart from that intrude? What sound might I extinguish? Or brought in closer to my day to day, the car breaks down, where is the problem? I have an argument with a close friend, how could this be wrong? In emptiness, in the fullness of here, where is this external sound that needs to extinguished? Therefore, wading through the water, I extinguish the sound. Here’s another: Bodhidharma sends Huike off in pursuit of his mind:

Huike said to Bodhidharma, “My mind is anxious. Please pacify it.”
Bodhidharma replied, “Bring me your mind, and I will pacify it.”
Huike said, “Although I’ve sought it, I cannot find it.”
“There,” Bodhidharma replied, “I have pacified your mind.”