how to find a way through when the world feels like it’s in crisis [Or: how a river runs through the current of things]

Audio recording of The Current of Things

The girl up at the river, she stood in that ribbon of water up to her ankles and said we’d all lost our ever lovin’ minds.

I’d known Lauriel since her grade school days, a long, willowy thing with hair flowing straight down her back and horn-rimmed glasses slipping off her nose.

When she’d hit the rapids of her teens, she’d taken a pair of scissors and chopped off her hair herself, stopped coming to the BBQs held out at the reflective edge of Gilley’s Pit, (which had the humble beginnings of being a gravel pit that eventually filled with clearing water for a host of hot summer nights and a posse of tired country kids.)

By the time Lauriel had headed off to college, she’d unfurled herself into an uncommon thinker, a sharp reader, a philosopher with a ready tongue and a sharper eye. She was a bit of a runnel looking to make some waves.

That afternoon we went up to the faithful Maitland River to dip our feet in the way summer had come and gone and was flowing on out to the Great Lakes before the trees started to turn, Lauriel was standing right out there in the middle of the river road and I would have known her anywhere after all these years.

She asked how we’d landed and if all these half dozen kids running the river were ours. Yeah, those four boys and those two girls. And I asked her about college and where grace found her and where was it moving her now, how it was moving in her now, and where she hung her hat.










Lauriel talked like a woman looking for a way across a river, for a way across this coursing current of war and race and politics and economics and culture that is shaping and wearing away at now.

She saw this Cross I had penned on my wrist.

“Is that who you are now?” She nodded toward the Cross.

And before I could answer, she turned to me and she said it straight out of the blue —- and it jarred me awake, like she’d plunged baptized all the slumbering in ice cold water:

“Tell me that you care about immigrants who are simply desperate for a safe place to exist or I’m not listening to your Jesus who you’re claiming exists in you.”

I looked her in the eye. I’d been reading the headlines, and the whole world was howling with her. How can you not, after seeing the pictures? I mean, all our collective hearts are breaking over this refugee crisis, over so much grief this summer — and I got it, I could hear what she was saying. Everything that she was saying and not saying and meaning in this heart howl at the end of a hurting summer:

‘Tell me that you care about what is right so passionately that you faithfully go live it, instead of just telling the rest of us how we are living wrong.

Tell me that you care about the mom who’s raising 3 kids on minimum wage in subsidized housing and the son who drowned his pain in a bottle till he lost his house, 

that you care about listening to the woman who’s lived a different life than you, who tells you about systemic racism, and very real class systems, and a desperate educational system, and you don’t chalk her up to just being a drain on the system.

Tell me that you’re pro-life, that you’re all pro-humans in utero — and that you care as much about humans in crisis, that you care about babies before they are born and that you care as much about them after they are born, that you don’t ever dismiss them as welfare weight or ugly thugs or the kind of people that shouldn’t live in your neighbourhood or go to your schools — or I’m not listening to what your Jesus teaches.’

‘And please tell me that you like your leaders to quietly live like a light, more than they like jockeying for the limelight, leaders who listen longer and better than they talk loudly and relentlessly, who aren’t afraid of time away from the crowds to retreat to the quiet because they know that it’s the backside of the wilderness that makes leaders who can forge a new way.

Show me how you love your welfare-dependant, substance-addicted, God-rejecting neighbours as yourself — and maybe I’ll listen to your God. 

Just— just tell me that you love people different than you, more than you dismiss them — or I’m indifferent to listening to this Jesus who you say you love.’ 

Lauriel’s standing there looking at me. I’m standing out in the middle of a river. The noise of everything stops coursing loud in my veins and I’m hearing.

I’m listening. I’m hurting with a hurting world and listening…




The river’s real around Lauriel and I standing here, around this next generation diving in, and my heart rate slows and I’m listening and you can hear the current of things:

Protesting can never be confused with the harder work of compassionate action.

Having serious objections that you post to the world wide web can never be confused with the harder work of having a genuine affection for the whole wide world Christ died for.

Being defined by what you’re against can never be confused with the harder work of being for the Kingdom of God.

Anger was washed away in the river…” is what Earnest Hemingway said.

The river eddies and I tell Lauriel — I tell her that the people of the Cross commit that wherever pain and people intersect, we will be mindful to hear those who feel powerless.

I tell her that the people of the Cross commit that wherever differences and opinions intersect: Those who take the grace of Christ must take the way of Christ and be known for choosing kindness even more than choosing rightness.

I tell her that people of the Cross commit that wherever brokenness and need intersect we will be offensive in lavish grace because grace never seems right until you’ve done something wrong and are in dire need of it. 

I tell her that people of the Cross commit to making our lives intersect with very different lives, because Jesus spent His whole life paying attention to people who most of us have spent our whole lives trying to never pay a moment’s notice to.

The river feels like a road moving us standing there and Love is an action.

Love is an active decision, an active force, and it flows into, through, and out of all the willing like a river, and if you try to stop it or dam it —

Love will rise even stronger and will seek another heart to run through all of its broken places and, love, it will run on and on —-

love will run on.


And we could be like a river of that living water.

We could widen and deepen, we could course our way through hard things and plow fresh new ways.

And our perspective could reflect a Kingdom, our lives could be a refuge and our choices could be a courage that goes against the current.

You can feel it in the air these days:

Something beautiful is rising.


Related: 1. To be one of the ones reaching to help pull refugees to safety, partner with World Relief, give backpacks to a refugee child, or lean in with RefugeeOne to help refugees face this winter (Or any other contacts to help refugees landing in Europe? Share in our community)

2. Consider signing a petition to ask the US administration to watch the Planned Parenthood videos… and if you sign, please choose one Crisis Pregnancy Center from this to donate to also? 

3. . when you’re looking for a fresh way forward: The Emmaus Option