“A River Runs Through It”: Rock & Water Ceremony with Rev. Bruce Johnson

“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” ― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through it and Other Stories

September 11th will be our “Ingathering Service.”  Along with many other UU congregations, we traditionally celebrate our coming together in the fall by pouring a bit of water that has been collected over the summer into a common container. This action symbolizes the flowing together of our lives in religious community as we begin a new season, and the water itself represents our diverse personal sources of spiritual refreshment and renewal.  “Many wells, one river,” as they say.

You were also invited to bring a small stone or rock with you to the service, and this will also be used in the ceremony as a symbol for the uniqueness of each individual self. Like all rituals, this one has power and meaning only to the extent that it is carried out with mindfulness and intentionality and in the spirit of ‘high play.’    

Holding an intention in your awareness can radically change the way you perceive the world. If you carry around a little vial or empty bottle in your pocket or purse or glove compartment or backpack, thinking that you might want to use it to collect a small sample of water from some special place so that you can share it during the ingathering ceremony, you tend to see the world a little differently.  You may begin to notice water in a new way.  In other words, the simple intention to scoop up a little sample of water from some place that you visit during the summer may cause you to pay closer attention to the ways that this precious, sustaining liquid flows through our lives and our world. 

Water and Stone can both be experienced as physical realities and as archetypal, symbolic forms.  It doesn’t matter whether the source of the water and rock you share is your own back yard or some exotic locale half-way around the world; the idea is that they represent the wellsprings of inspiration, refreshment, and renewal in your life and the sacred stories that express the grounded, earthly truth of who you are. 

Hopefully, many of you will have experienced some kind of intentional “spiritual practice” over the summer. But if not, don’t worry!  If you forget to bring water and a stone to the service on the 11th – or if you just didn’t have a chance to collect your own – extras of each will be provided, so that you can fully participate and immerse yourself in this joyous celebration of life!

For information about attending in person, links to Zoom login info, Sunday’s Order of Service, Online Giving and more click here –> linktr.ee/uulacrosse