I'm fascinated by the river I live next to. Dubuque natives are used to it, but the Mississippi River is new to me, and in my first year as its neighbor, each season reveals a new side to its personality.
The winter river has surprised me with its beauty. Without green leaves to distract the eye, the water's grays are darker and its shadows are stronger, especially when set against a sprinkle of snow over ice. In winter, the dark water gets to take center stage.
I took this photo the other weekend from outside the River Museum, but the quote comes from inside the building, where the walls are decorated with the words of writers through the ages, all trying to describe the indescribable - the river.
As a writer myself, I loved reading the words of other writers trying to do what writers do - trying to make the reader see, feel and hear through their words. Heraclitus hit it right for me, about the river and other things: "You can not step into the same river twice." Words, paintings, poetry and certainly the snapshot taken from my phone can never describe a river. So why bother? Maybe because the river describes us.
Our Creator has filled the world with signs and clues to guide us toward the living, the beautiful and the true, in other words, back to God the Creator. What better place to seek the artist than in the art itself?
Maybe one day I'll get used to living by a river but I hope not. I don't want to miss these views, because the river will never look the same twice.
A realization like that is called an Epiphany. It's what the three wise men felt when they realized that Jesus was no ordinary baby, and they dropped off their gifts before dropping to their knees. We'll celebrate that Epiphany this Sunday.
It was on Epiphany Sunday exactly one year ago that the search committee introduced me to my church in Dubuque. I preached my candidate sermon and took questions before I was escorted out of the church during the congregational vote. It was both exciting and totally nerve-wracking.
What a difference a year makes. I feel much more peaceful heading into this Epiphany at my church by the Mississippi.
So it's true. You never step in the same river twice.