Following the River

Our assistant principal’s wife, winner of a Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching, recommended this book. I was eager to buy it, because I value her opinion, but when it arrived from the used book seller I ordered it from, I looked at it and thought, “What?!”

I am not a lover of romance novels. Okay, I hate them. They seem trite and repetitive of theme. The cover of this novel made me think of something like Love’s Tender Fury where a woman with half her bodice ripped off is langoring in the pectorals of some well oiled man. But, that is not the case.

The novel is based on the true story of Mary Ingles, whose settlement in Virginia was massacred in 1755 by the Shawnee Indians. She, her children, and her sister-in-law were captured and taken with the tribe up the O-y-0 (Ohio) River to their village. Like watching a train wreck, in which you simply can not take your eyes away from the horror before you, I read of her escape. She walked 1,000 miles with no guide, no food, no equipment, and no horse back to her settlement with resolve like I’ve never seen. The book even concludes with General Washington interviewing her, humbled by her experience, as his trek in similar conditions almost was the death of him.

It occurs to me, as I’m in a particularly bleak month for me, that each of us are following a river of sorts. It may not be a river literally, but aren’t we walking, sometimes bloody from the scrapes, a path which we cannot see but only trust is right?

Eleven years ago tomorrow my first husband took his life, due to the overpowering depression of mental illness. I have come to terms with it, as much as one can, but my son? Who lost his father at six years of age? There’s no bandage I can apply which will heal his wound. There’s so little I can do that can help him on his path except for my prayers, my encouragement, and my love. The thing I must do, with every fibre of my being, is not to give in to fear regarding his life.

I was enormously blessed by an email I received from a blogging friend, who sent me this prayer from The Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

I’m just following the river with Him as my guide.

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20 thoughts on “Following the River”

  1. Bellezza – wow, that sounds like an amazing story! I am sorry to hear about your loss, though. There is certainly no statute of limitations on grief. 😦 Hugs from VA, to you and your son.

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  2. Someone recommended this book to me years ago and it's still on my TBR list. I've looked at it several times, but haven't bought or checked it out from the library yet. Maybe it's the cover?My father took his own life when I was in college – so I'm sending some special hugs to you and your son.

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  3. What a hard thing to have to live through. *hugs*I used to sneer at romance novels, but then I discovered that there are now some good authors who write romance novels, and some of them are quite fun, with good characterization and plotting.

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  4. Excellent book! I wonder if his other s are as good.I'll be thinking of you and your son tomorrow. Such a sad day. At 6, he had already established a strong relationship with his daddy and has lots of memories of the times shared with him. My little granddaughter was not quite 3 when her mommy died, but she sure remembers her. And misses her terribly.My heart goes out to both of you.Love to you, dear friend.

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  5. Bellezza -It sounds like a very interesting book and I've added it my ever-growing list.Life is certainly a river and the ride can be slow and placid or wild and dangerous. It seems to me that you've had your wild ride. I'll keep you in my prayers and ask for calm water from here on out.cjh

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  6. Sounds like a pretty amazing story! I'm not one for romances either, so I would probably have the same reaction as you to that cover!Thinking of life as a river is a wonderful metaphor. Sometimes there are rapids; the terrible tragedies that touch us, I'm sorry to hear one so awful has hit your family. Thank God for the occasional smooth patch to try our best to recover.

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  7. What a very touching post you wrote. I had heard about this book several years ago but have never picked it up to read. You made such a thoughtful analogy of the river and our lives. Some times have rapids and treacherous pitfalls and some parts are slow and easy. You and your son are in my thoughts and prayers always. Hugs to you!

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  8. You and your son are in my thoughts and prayer today (2/27/08). I am a romantic at hear, so I enjoy reading romance novels. I don't care for the Harlequin type novels. My favorite is Jane Austen. I like those type of novels. :o)The book you are reading sound good. I'll have to add it to my list.

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  9. Each one, Phew! The day is over. Thank you so much for your words left here in the comments section. I know that each one has woes, no family is left untouched from heartache at one time or another. It's good to have friends to give encouragement; it's good to have faith that this too shall pass. I'd have liked to respond to each one, especially you dear SuziQ, but I'm running rather on empty right now. Just know that your comments are a balm to me.~Bellezza

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  10. I'm a few days late with my prayers and wishes of peace, for you and your son, but here they are:When I am liberated by silence,when I am no longer involvedin the measurement of life, but in the living of it,I can discover a form of prayer in which there is effectively no distraction.My whole life becomes a prayer.My whole silence is full of prayer.The world of silence in which I am immersed contributes to my prayer. Thomas Merton May your silences, as well as your voice, continue to shine in His love and bring peace to you and your son.

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  11. California Teacher Guy, I'll never forget one of the comments you left me in response to a note my son wrote about God believing in him. You said that God does believe in us, and how grateful I am that He is constant when I am blind.Becca, even though I'm not episopalian, the Book of Common Prayer is so sustaining!Ms. George, I'd not read the poem you left me before (nor heard of the poet). Thank you for sending such beautiful words, and especially touching to me is your personal last line.Thanks for visiting, William Wren.AND, TO TOP IT ALL OFF: today was Institute Day. We have TWENTY TWO elementary buildings in our district. At which ONE am I assigned for meetings? The ONE where my first husband taught; the ONE which has his picture in the hall to honor his class. Like I needed to say that today…

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  12. I wonder if your son knows any adult men whose fathers also committed suicide? I'm so sorry for what happened all those years ago. My heart aches for you and your boy.

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  13. Nan, I tried a "bajillion" times to leave comments on your new tulip banner, your BIRTHDAY, and another post, but they were kicked back each time. I'll try again, but in the meantime, thanks for your sweet thoughts. (As well as perfect timing!)

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  14. For a child to lose a caregiver at such an early age is such devastation that wreaks such havoc all throughout the years of his or her life. Studies will show, books will reiterate, stories will be passed around with warnings of repercussions and tragedy. But, there is hope in God. And, healing and promise and peace. Indeed, God is about the only source of healing for a boy who loses his father. I am sorry for your loss and your son's enduring pain and pleased to read the prayer you chose to close with. Have missed you, Bellezza. And, don't forget that God is omnipotent and omnipresent. You can ask him now, to heal hurts then. Blessings. xo

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