Where Waters Sing

I want to take you from my tiny courtyard garden to a more expansive landscape, but no less a “garden” in my view. It still needs, as all gardens do, the essential elements of air, soil, and water. And someone to appreciate it.

A recent trip to Litchfield National Park in the Northern Territory (aka the ‘Top End’), of Australia, evoked metaphorical reflections on the element of water. Of course, the actual reflections on ‘water’ were equally enchanting.

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The water I want to reflect on here was moving. Moving and singing. In a vast dry continent like Australia, a trip to the Top End’s monsoonal gorges is a salve for the spirit. It serves to remind how essential water is, not just for the physical sustenance of life, but for one’s soul.

Having recently traveled to drought-ravaged areas of southern New South Wales where once verdant paddocks had become dust, it was a refreshing contrast to see the seasonal cycle of ‘the dry’ still nourished by the water retained in the sandstone from the previous wet season.

Covering some 1500 square kilometres, Litchfield National Park is an ancient landscape sculpted by water. Open woodlands cover the sandstone plateau of the Tabletop Range. Stunning waterfalls plummet from great heights into deep rocky waterholes on the floor of ancient gorges, carved out by water over millennia. People and native fauna alike, find cool respite in the pools and shady monsoonal forests at the base of the cliffs.

I sat in repose, cooling my feet at the edge of a clear pool while my companions swam. Tiny native fish sidled around my feet. I fancied feeling the thrumming of an ancient land, the songs carried by the water as it tumbled from the plateau.

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It would be easy to be lulled into a false sense of security, however. Litchfield is not a place to visit during the wet season. Monsoonal rains and flash flooding make roads inaccessible. Creeks and waterholes are flushed with flooding rains, replenishing the natural sandstone reservoirs for another season  The possibility of estuarine crocodiles becomes a reality. After the ‘Big Wet’, waterholes and creeks are surveyed then cleared before being deemed safe for swimming again. I was reassured the animals were relocated.

Back in Darwin, as I listened to the throbbing of a didgeridoo at a local market, I was moved by some ancient, elusive memory. It resonated someplace deep inside of me, just as the singing waters had. I felt connected – a part of something more profound, something primeval. I felt renewed.

The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit.

Saint Teresa of Avila

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32 responses to “Where Waters Sing

    • You have that right, Jane. Such a contrast to drought ravaged areas. It made me realise the place water, especially waterfalls and running water in nature, has for my mental well-being

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      • When it rains here, I want to go out and run around in it, and I love to see little trickles of water start to make a rivulet when we get decent rain. They’re never clear like the ones in your photo, though.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha. I love the idea of running around in the rain. I haven’t done that since I was a child. One of the positive things that comes from a lack of something essential, is how much more you appreciate it. You notice all the little things that might have gone unseen before. I will think of you next time I see a muddy trickle.

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  1. I recently spent a magical afternoon playing in our stream; making dams and throwing “Pooh” sticks with my four-year old granddaughter. Elemental to my well being is to be outside; preferably in the “wild” places 🌼 Lovely blog. As always.

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      • Perhaps that is a very British thing?? Yes> Participants in the game choose a small stick, stand on a bridge and everyone throws their stick over together – facing upstream, then you turn round to see the sticks racing down with the current and whose is the winner. As played by Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. xx

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  2. Very moving words and images.Thak you, Robyn, for this guided meditation.

    Just last week we were visiting friends in Palm Springs, California, a desert area where the springs are lost (to the average visitor) in mountain crevasses and reappear as giant sprinklers at exclusive golf resorts– in my view, a tragic appropriation of the most important of natural resources. But we’re were comforted by reading together with our dear friends a poem that appeared, as if by coincidence, in my email one morning. I think it fits even better beneath your post:

    Riverkeeper
    -Margaret Gibson | Issue 96 of IMAMGE magazine

    Wanting to be that place where inner
    and outer meet, this morning
    I’m listening to the river inside,
    also to the river out the window,
    river of sun and branch shadow, muskrat
    and mallard, heron, and the rattled cry
    of the kingfisher. Out there is a tree
    whose roots the river has washed so often
    the tree stretches beyond itself, its spirit
    like mine leaning out over the water, held
    only by the poised astonishment
    of being here. This morning, listening
    to the river inside, I’m sinking into a stillness
    where what can’t be said stirs beneath
    currents of image and memory, below strata
    of muons and quarks, now rushes, now hushes
    and pools, now casts a net of bright light
    so loosely woven there’s a constellation
    afloat on the surface of the river, so still
    I can almost hear it weave in and out—
    interstellar, intercellular—and isn’t it
    truly all one, one world, no in or out, no here
    or there, seamless, as a lily about to open
    from just here into everywhere, is. Just is.
    Restful lily. Lucky lily. To bloom must feel
    like a river’s brightening at daybreak,
    or a slow kiss, a throb in the elapse of time,
    a shudder of heron shadow flying over
    shallows that are merely the apparent
    skim of a depth whose bottomless surface
    seeps everywhere, bloom and retraction,
    an anchored flow that upholds city
    and cathedral, bridge and gate,
    Orion, odd toad in the Amazon, blue dragonfly,
    what it is to love…. Spoil a river, you spoil all this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh Albert! Thank you for sharing this beautiful poem. It articulates my feelings so beautifully. The alliteration, the imagery, the parallels with emotion – just lovely! Do you know the poet? I see it’s been published in a journal. One I’m unfamilair with.
      I understand how you must have felt seeing springs and natural water flows diminished by commercial interests, Ahh, the hubris of humans thinking they can improve on what is already perfect. Thanks for visiting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was recently introduced to her poetry via a series of email exchanges with my favorite brother, Hamilton, (we are close in age and closest in interests). Here’s what he told me: [my anecdote about travel plans] “reminds me of a poet we have gotten to know up here, a fellow worshipper at the local Quaker house – Margaret Gibson. She’s published many books, won some important awards, and just published a second volume of poems about her late husband’s years with alzheimer’s. I find her poems both deep and uplifting (‘falling’ and ‘upward’ again). I’ve attached one below. See what you think.”

        I think I’ll be on the lookout for more of her work. Im glad that poem meant something to you, Robyn.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Robyn, I’m refreshed, also, after reading such beautiful descriptions. And then to read Alfred’s comment and be introduced to a new poet made my night brighter. I was going to work on another chapter of Last Sermon, but after reading your email, I just wanted to visit with you and share your world for a little while. I’m so happy I made that choice. Thank you both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wasn’t that a wonderful poem Clare? It said so much I couldn’t find the words for. Thanks to Albert who always shares good things.
      I’m glad my post resonated with you. I see I have an email reply from you in my box. Will answer tomorrow. Having grandchildren time now 😍

      Liked by 1 person

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