River of Life Exercise

Image from miriveroflife.org

I have envisioned the spiritual journey as a unique and living curriculum through which God reveals Himself, His ways, His purposes, and His understanding of who we are.

Thus a practice like “Practicum of a Soul Friend” is meant to explore more about who you are, how you are in relation to others, and who you are to God.

Spiritual Journey may connote some sense of pathway, but Jesus reveals that everyone born of the Spirit is like the wind: “you hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from, or where it is going.”

Thus this poem by Antonio Machado invites an open awareness of the path before us:

Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino …

Pathmaker, there is no path,
You make the path by walking.
By walking, you make the path …

“Machado’s reminder is simultaneously daunting and comforting” writes the “On Being” editor,  “— both a call to step forward into uncharted territory, as well as reassurance that there’s no right way to walk the wilderness of your own life.”  Having said that, Scripture gives insight on the path:

The Psalmist sings,

You have shown me the path of life: in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand is eternal pleasure.

The writer of Proverbs enlightens,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
 In all your ways know him,
    and he will make straight your paths.

To make all our ways a way of knowing God – – to discover being in His presence is a wonderful invitation. Kristin Lin of On Being writes:

“In walking your path, it can be helpful to look back on the shape it has already taken — to take inventory of all the moments and people that have honed you into who you are today.

This River of Life exercise is designed to help you reflect and discover where you’ve come from. Give yourself at least 30 minutes to work through it.  (This activity was originally developed by Joyce Mercer. It is edited and adapted with permission to On Being).

… As you finish depicting your river of life, review the whole diagram. Do its symbols and words seem to portray how you think and feel about the whole of your life? Is there some important element left out? Make adjustments as needed. Remember that no diagram can possibly capture all that shapes your journey.”


Let me know how you imagined the river of your life.

About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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