There were 11,000 people at the Portland Show tonight. So many people that we had to tear down the backdrop so that the seats behind the stage could be used. 1,000 people didn't even make it into the doors. How crazy is that? It has been a long week for me as my body has complained a bit louder than I thought it would over the travel. So I am glad to be entering my self-proclaimed vacation days.
Tomorrow I am going to Powell's Bookstore in Portland, Oregon. It's the largest independent bookstore in the world. Four stories high, an entire city block long, and over a million books stacked from floor to ceiling at any given time. I wish they'd just let me spend the night there.
Then I am going to Voodoo Donuts. They have a chocolate donut that is filled with chocolate cream and laced with Cocoa Puffs cereal. They also marry people in their store. Does this sound strange to anyone else? The line is always long to pick your poison of choice, still, I will take my chances on any place that will take an already sugary soul food, inject more soul food into it, and charge less than $2.
At some point I will sit outside, eat lunch, and watch the water.
I'm a water watcher.
There is something about the movement of a river that captures my soul unlike anything else in the entire world. Whether it's a babbling stream, a moving creek, a rushing flow of water coming down the mountains and fiercely devouring everything in its path, or a lazy wide-mouthed river like the Mississippi; the movement of water captivates me.
I've spent hours over the last few days following the river's every move. One minute it is narrow and meandering while the next minute it disappears and my heart sinks, where did it go? It comes back, now on the other side of the road, and it is a whole new river. It is wide, with patches of rocks and dry ground in the middle. It rushes over small cliffs and glimmers in the sun. Then it slows down, narrows out, winds around trees and becomes as clear as glass. I can actually see fish. Without warning it swiftly changes its mind and then for miles I watch it run hard and fast away from where it came from.
It moves. Always. Constantly.
It changes. Always. Constantly.
And as I write this I wonder if babies know about rivers before they make it to earth? Anniston moves all the time too. Just like a river. Sometimes beautiful, methodical, and thoughtful. Sometimes erratically with fierce energy and a desire to kick her way out of the womb. She moves.
She changes. Always. I swear she was just a little blob on a screen yesterday. At some point she became more than a blob; I called her tadpole. My little tadpole. And those days seem like a year ago. She was not completely inanimate, nor was she completely human. She was just a little fish in my stomach. Now here I am, counting down the short days before her arrival and I see little hands and feet moving across my belly. There is a person in there. A little girl, with a soul, and a personality already in place. I can't really wrap my mind around it, around her. But oh how I try.
The first thing I fell in love with in Eastern Europe were the rivers. I spent a summer living in Romania and traveling to and from Budapest, Hungary. My most vivid memories when I came home where the faces of the little orphans I took care of that summer. But every time I would dream about them, and it was often, I would always see the rivers too. Those beautiful rivers surrounded by lush green grass.
A few years back as the band made its way through Germany, into Austria, and finally into Slovakia I followed one river for at least six hours straight. Now when I think of Slovakia I remember this little house made of stones nestled on the side of the river. It's chimney pumped out smoke into the cold air, the water just looked frosty against its thick smoke, and on either side of the banks the mountains towered over the house and I am sure it never saw sunlight. Still, this little house was a part of this mysterious river; everything seems to belong to the river, it is never the other way around.
My eyes will burn with sleepiness, my stomach will growl, and my thoughts will be a million miles away dragging me into a very reflective water-warp zone, and yet, I cannot help myself. I could literally watch a river all day long.
I've always wondered what it is about them that captivates me. Today I think I finally got a glimpse. Because as I followed the river, this little person inside of me seemed to follow it too.
Stillness. Then abundant energy. Rolling. Moving. Shaking. Silence. Little fingers just flicking the side of my belly. A slight move of the foot. Then sleep. She wakes up with a roar an hour later. And eventually lulls her way into a drunken stupor of happiness and peace. She falls asleep again. Next time she wakes up it is slow, purposeful, peaceful. She saves her energy for another time. Right now she is just enjoying the ride. Her tiny little hiccups rhythmically remind me that she is there, but other than that, she wants to be quiet. She falls asleep again. I know the next time she wakes up she will roar.
One day soon I will wake up and she will be on the move. And just as quickly as she became a new friend deeply woven into my body, she will leave.
Life is all about movement. If we're not moving, we are not alive. We may barely be trickling, but there is much to be said for a quiet, labored trickle. There is a beautiful strength in that. Sometimes we are flowing gently, serenely. Other times we are raging. It is all quite unpredictable. So we jump in and pray that we can weather the currents. Big or small.
We become our own little rivers carving out paths both narrow and wide, moving and changing, trickling and roaring our way through this world. And we believe that God sees all the millions and millions of rivers ebbing and flowing; that he delights in their uniqueness and prepares a place where eventually they come together.
Geez, I really am in Portland. The abundance of marijuana loving hippy naturalists have just seeped into my heart and made me compare Christianity to streams and tributaries. But Jesus was a water guy too. So I'm hoping He understands that when I look at a moving river, somehow, I realize that I am seeing a reflection of myself. I am seeing the currents of life. Beautiful, strong, and unpredictable. He understands. He would so love the Northwest. I can totally tell.