by: Emily Meeks
The scramble up the mountain took all four limbs as we navigated loose scree and slick rock faces. The morning was crisp and cool but the workup of elevation left me glad to have kept my pack weight at camp. When the waters of Jade Lake, an alpine basin with vibrant blue water came into view, I felt the kind of awe and wonder that can make every part of a person want to run toward what is beautiful and stand still in reverence, all at once.
We followed the trail around the lake to see different angles of the early light and came across a stream crossing. We listened to its waterfalls, traced its flow over pebbles and plants, and wrapped the views of mountains around us. “A stream of life,” my friend said, as we both saw how this source of water flowed into the depths of the lake ahead.
Jesus said something similar in John 7:38, “As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” The word “living” is translated from the Greek word zaō, which can be translated as, “to have true life and worthy of the name.” Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of true life, worthy of the name.
This week I have been reflecting on the gift of watching true life unfold – those moments in which you witness the Spirit flow through the ones you love with that same awe and wonder of a mountain stream flowing into an alpine lake. Put another way, I have been grateful to witness my friends living out their calling. Now in our mid 30s, I observe how we are making decisions that reflect a deeper sense of being and knowing instead of following what our parents thought we should do or pursuing what “success” might look like. I hear and see my friends make courageous decisions to follow calling, not culture. But that looks different for each of us, and for that I am finding great joy in not needing to be on their path nor expecting they need to be on pine.
“Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess,” said Thomas Merton. “Vocation does not come from a voice out there calling me to be something I am not. It comes from a voice in here calling me to be the person I was born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given me at birth by God.”
One of the gifts of living in the Pacific Northwest are summit to sea moments – opportunities to experience the ascent of the mountain and the fluidity of the ocean within a short span of each other. After returning from backpacking, I discovered it would be very low tide midday for the July 4 holiday. As I made my way onto the beach, I saw large swatches of sand engraved by inlets and pools of water. Only visible for a short time, they would flow back to the wider sea, not confined by shape but continuing to adapt into this vast form unbounded and endless. Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of true life, worthy of the name. On this day of celebrating ideals of “freedom” I was reminded of the true freedom that comes when living into our Godly identity.
All at once I was connected to each part of my week: standing at the base of an alpine lake, kneeling by this tidepool on a beach, and watching a friend feed their baby their first bites of tofu.
“The place God calls you to,” said Frederick Buechner, “is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
We are each invited to stand at a stream of life. May we feel its flow into the greater depths of God’s love to experience the ways in which we are uniquely called to be a source that brims and spills forth with true life, worthy of the name.
Emily Meeks loves finding adventure and connection outside, especially while running, biking, hiking and kayaking. She attends and serves at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle.