Water. Our Sustainer or Betrayer?

When a person is raised along the banks of a river, on a lake, or near a pond; our blood runs a little thinner. Watered down by the sounds, smells and beauty of the landscape. One who lives near these such places becomes entwined in the character of the water and its surroundings. We become more in tune to the ebbs and tides of the ocean, and the rising and falling of a gorged river. The sounds of a late afternoon echo the voices of neighboring frogs, their music flowing through the air as grand as any symphony. Yes, all these things become who we are.


What a blessing to have been raised on a hill over looking The Big Elkin Creek in Elkin North Carolina. As a young girl I spent most of my spare time along those banks, or knee deep in its depths. I have always loved to watch the flow of water as it gently cascades down a slope, or plunges over a cliff. Marveling in the noise and force that water makes as it crashes against a rocky cliff or rushes over rocks. The sound of water is soothing to the soul and welcoming to the ears.


As a child when the spring and fall rains came. I would travel to my mama’s closet and borrow a thin covering of plastic from a recently returned garment from the dry cleaner. I’d paste this makeshift raincoat to my body and head out into the wild. Sometimes I’d tromp through puddles or stand over them and look for tadpoles that I knew fell from the sky. Other times I’d take rocks from the dirt road and dam up the side ditches. When I became bored of this I’d venture down to the creek and check the water level. In the seventeen years that I lived along that creek I saw it creep out of its banks many times. I would stand amazed as huge branches, and sometimes-entire trees came floating by, the bulk of them appearing weightless as they bobbled up and down riding the current.


The occasional flooding of the creek seemed a really big thing for me when younger. I didn’t think about all the animals that lost their homes, the beaver, muskrat, and mink. Their nests or burrowed out tunnels in the riverbanks gone, filled in with mud or swept away by the force. A river can claim homes, wipe out acres of bottomland, take out a bridge in a second and lives can be swallowed up in the blink of an eye. Man can build dams to control some water, but last week we quickly found out that there is no curbing the force of a tsunami. You can’t out run a wall of water that is coming at you at speeds of over forty miles an hour.


The horror of what the people of Japan are going through is foreign to me in all kinds of ways. For those who have survived, what is left for them? Fear! Will another quake ripe the earth apart spewing forth yet another wall of water?  What about the threat of a nuclear reactor meltdown? I cannot imagine the horror of what these people are going through. Lost loved ones, homes adrift or washed miles away, nothing left but a memory. Where will they sleep, what will they eat, and who will keep them warm? One day you are tucked away, safe and secure, the next second you have nothing but the clothes on your back.

Sometimes we can’t see how fortunate we are. We think we have nothing, or we’re barely scraping by. But just for a minute look around; take in all that you would lose if a wall of water swept your life away. You have more than you think, don’t you?


My love of water has never deluded me from fearing it. When I was in my teens I almost drowned in the Atlantic Ocean. One minute I was having the time of my life jumping waves, feeling the weightlessness of my body as the current picked me up and carried me high upon its crests. Then all of a sudden the wave dissipates and my feet try to find the bottom, solid ground, but there is none, and the occasional wave has become a never ceasing attack on this unfamiliar object in its midst. Brutally bashing into the alien who dares to think it can conquer its might. That day I truly believed I would die. But all of a sudden I found the strength to keep swimming for shore. As the force of the water pulled me out to sea, a stronger power reined me in toward land. God was not ready for me to be swallowed up and gone.


I’ve often wondered why The Lord spared me that day. For what reason has He given me thirty-five more years to live? Have I fulfilled my destiny, or is that big or small something still waiting around the corner? I can only hope I’ll be wise enough to know God’s will for my life, and strong enough to get through it and make it to the other shore, having done what I was left here to do. Life is like the winding river and the rolling sea. We will take many turns, some right, others wrong. We will be tossed, experiencing many highs and lows. One day we will be thankful for the water that sustains our life, other days we may curse the betrayer.


For the possible 10,000 estimated dead in Japan I can only pray that they believed in the cleansing power of water. And for those left in the aftermath, I humbly desire for them a safe haven, a place of rest, and a peace that surpasses all understanding. God Bless!


John 4: 13-14

13) Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14) But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst: but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Janice Phelps Williams March 16, 2011 at 7:30 am

Beautiful, thoughtful post, Sarah. I am so glad you survived that day! My husband had a water survival experience too…he was with his father and they got seperated from the boat when snorkeling, I believe it was, and he didn’t want to leave his father to swim to shore, of course because his dad was blind…

I loved reading about your time as a girl by the river. When I was girl there was a creek behind our property and I spent many hours alone there playing with the water, the rocks, and imagining there had been another city hidden under the water long ago, because I found bricks in the creek and thought this might be evidenc e of interesting secrets! It was at this creek’s side that I learned that you can climb a tree, on your own, that is very high. You can stay up there and think you can’t find your way out of the tree and must have someone to help you. But in the end you figure out a way and climb down on your own. And go home for dinner and life goes on. And you don’t climb that tree again!

Oh, you’ve got me remembering this morning!

Cathy March 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm

A thoughtful piece in the face of such a huge, challenging topic. Water is ever mysterious, ever changing its shape to conform to its environment, while never ever losing its true nature, which is to change. A lesson for me, to be sure.

Claire Vorster March 24, 2011 at 8:19 am

What a beautiful, fantastic post Sarah. I was with you in all the water you describe with such understanding. There has been so much water lately – New Orleans, Australia, Japan and more.

Water changes everything. It is life and death. I thank God for your story, your amazing miracle and the hope that it brings.

Love and may His love keep you warm,
Claire x

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