I’ve always loved running water, always been drawn to paddle feet or hands in it, to sit near it, listen to it. Stroud is wonderful on that score, with its many small streams. There are even a few small waterfalls. I’m especially blessed in that I can hear water flowing, from my bed.
As a lot of my prayer and meditation practice happens around the edges of sleep, I’m very conscious of that space as an environment and I pay a fair bit of attention to how it impacts on me. Being able to feel a connection with the natural world, from the sacred space of bed, is powerful for me.
I’m conscious of a transition as I settle at night, as I cease to be sociable, and gradually stop thinking about whatever’s been running around in my head. I know I’m settling when I become aware of the stream, and every time this happens I also become aware of just how much I filter out with my waking perceptions. The stream has a music of its own, coming down from the hills and heading out towards the Severn River. As I listen, I have an awareness of water as life, water as cleansing, and moving water as a journey towards other worlds. Letting the stream carry me, I drift towards sleep.
Often, waking is initially a process of becoming consciously aware of the water. I often start to surface before the dawn chorus. Awareness that I am waking is often awareness that I am hearing the stream, that it is calling me back to the waking world.
Having lived on a boat, I am very aware that water is often silent. Moving water can be remarkably hard to hear, even when there’s quite a significant flow. What creates the sound is not just the movement, but the interaction between water and something else – plant matter on the bank, stones in the river bed. Mostly what I hear is water passing over a small weir. Where water passes for long enough, it smoothes a silent passage. Stand by the River Severn, and there’s surprisingly little sound. But then, nature is often busiest at the margins and the places of interaction.