Spiritual Retreat: Flowing with the Roaring Fork River

During my personal spiritual retreat last week, I took a day to drive the three hours to Glenwood Springs to meet with my new coach, Jeff Patterson.  We spent most of our time sitting on rocks at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers.  Later that day, I spent several hours upstream on the Roaring Fork, taking in her gifts.

I did not consciously know it before sitting there on that beautiful summer day, but I had been starving for the river.

As a child and teenager, I spent a couple weeks of most of my summers playing on the banks of the Crystal, Roaring Fork and Frying Pan Rivers while my dad fished.  I loved wading in the freezing cold water, building forts out of sticks and smashing rocks to smithereens.

Crystal River
The Crystal River near Redstone, Colorado

These Colorado rivers flow swift and powerful with clear water.  My dad taught me to respect their pull and never under estimate how quickly I could be taken down river without my consent.  When I first visited the east coast as a young adult, I was appalled by how lazy the rivers there seemed to me.

And, then I fell in love with the New Mexico desert and only occasionally noticed the Rio Grande River, even though I have spent hundreds of hours within a mile or two of her.  I’ve devoted all my retreat time to the desert and have only ventured to the mountains to ski – again without paying attention to the rivers.

What nourishment had I craved from the river without even knowing?

As a very grounded Taurus, I love being on the land.  Often slow to change, I can sometimes resist flow, preferring  to plan.  The steady roar of the Roaring Fork called me to embrace flow and change with a bit more trust.  I could feel my body relax into the flow of the river, feeling the constancy of change – even feeling excited by it!

For the past few months, I have been in the  middle of a tremendous personal and professional growth spurt.  The mighty flow of the river offered me courage to more fully allow myself to grow and flourish, even as I often feel like a baby beginner . . .  

2 comments to Spiritual Retreat: Flowing with the Roaring Fork River

  • Ann Strong

    Brenda, WOW! You have a kind of courage and faith that I have never even considered. Would I trust the river to get me to safety?! I love thinking about that – in the literal situation of jumping in the rapids and the metaphoric situation of the flow of Life . . . Thank you for that food for thought!

  • Brenda

    I love the image of having a coaching session sitting on rocks by a river. I grew up near the Savannah River and mostly just saw it from above, riding in a car as we drove over a bridge. As I got older and could venture out on my own, I gravitated toward the rapids, where the big rocks and drop in elevation created big white water. Of course, “the rapids” were off-limits in my parents’ eyes, so I had to keep these adventures secret. It was fun to cross the river by stepping or leaping from rock to rock, fun to sit and watch the others sun-bathe, chat or from time to time “shoot the rapids.” And then my time came to jump in the water and see what the fuss was all about. Sure enough, the rush of the water grabbed by body and pulled me under. I had no control at all as to what would happen next. I remember looking up to seeing above the water and the blue sky. And then just as quickly, the water popped me back up to fresh air and a quick drift to the still pool of water where I could climb out and do it all again! That may have been the moment I experienced faith for the first time. Completely letting go, knowing there was nothing I could do to control the situation, accepting life as I knew if may have just ended, and enjoying the surprise of a breath of fresh air as I get to live to play again another day.

    Today, I choose to live near the river. I tell people one of the things I like about where my office is located is I get to drive on the parkway along the Ohio River to and from work each day. This post reminds me I need to get closer to the water. Just watching from above is not fully embracing change and choosing the next growth spurt.

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Ann Strong, founder of Strong from Within and Thriving Coaches.

Author of Thriving Work.


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