In the past year I watched a documentary called Damnation. It was one side of the story told about the damage that dams have done especially in the West to the flow of the river, the natural lay of the land and the animals and the people that depended on the life that a free flowing river brought.
I have political views, but I am way more interested in the principles behind the views we hold to. And this documentary has done a strange and mysterious thing to the the way I see the world around me. Warning, I am moving into the land of metaphor in the hopes of illustrating a truth of the heart and soul. I am going to use the movie and the concept of a dam to illustrate the point. Again, this is about exploring our lives and the way we see the world, not a political/environmental statement. (For the record those have there place, but for me, that is not here and not today)
A dam is man-made instrument that is employed to restrain, control and coral a body of water. In many cases a river, is dammed in hopes to hold and use water in way that benefits the people around it.
So the natural flow is held back in the name of control and progress. Fish are displaced. Those that depend on the flow of fish are hurt. The land itself that fed off of the mighty flow of the river, receive now a diminished flow of water and the life it brings. Some people reap the benefits of a reservoir that can be controlled, yet many others are hurt.
What captured me as a I watched this documentary was the beauty that was betrayed in the building of the dams. The wildness of the area was tamed and a large concrete structure was constructed in the middle a place that was free and wide.
Our hearts that were given to us by our Creator, to be a wild and free river. The phyiscal earth was made as a sort of wonderland where we can play, flourish and dwell. The earth is a teacher of way things could and should be. When we attempt to tame that which should not be tamed, we violate a principal of being human and dwelling here on this earth.
When we build dams — in our lives, in our organizations, and in our churches — in hopes of containing and controlling, we at the same time are cutting off the wild and free flowing water which brings life.
When we try to control the water/the source of life, we alter it. When we change the flow of our hearts and lives, our very being is altered. Life and issues of the heart can not be pinned up or held back. Our lives are meant to flow, to move, and to carry life to others. When we are more concerned about holding, containing and restraining, life is lost in the name of trying to preserve it.
At the end of the documentary, a man hides out in the woods and watches the initial blast that leads to the destroying of a dam. The water rushes with such force and as sludge comes through the relatively small hole you are reminded of a prisoner set free.
Relatively quickly as the dam is no longer holding the water back, the river finds it’s old places of residence. It is like a captive that comes home, it knows and bends and dips. The river relishes in being back at home. Within a year the fish populations are on the rise. There is something spiritual in watching this unleashing of the river that leads to deep restoration.
I am afraid we have as humans, have constructed dams of false scripts and destructive lies that hinder the life and freedom we were intended to have by our Creator. We build in the name of security. We build in hopes of having more. But we are left empty and longing for freedom and sound of the wild river running across the rocks.
The times has come when our well constructed and controlled dams start to crack. We can see the water starting to tear at the dam. We can sense the water wanting to flow and see the possibility of restoration standing in the wings. We tire ourselves by working to repair the broken construct that has attempted to contain that which should not be contained or controlled.
There is moment when we need to damn the dams of our lives. We need to allow the rivers to flow. We need to unleash and throw off all that hinders and allow the river to run the way that God intended it to run.
This is a stirring that is being felt deeply by many people that I know. It is a desire for restoration. It is about righting the wrongs that we sense at the deepest level of our souls. The metaphor of the dam and rivers speaks and challenges the tensions we carry within us.
Control and repair do not pave the path towards restoration. Instead, by allowing the water and the flow to take its course,we will be led to hope. Surrendering to the way in which Creation (the earth) and the Created (human beings) were intended to live and move, is the only way forward. And finding that way will not be found in building more and or repairing our ‘great’ dams but it will be found in knowing and living in line with the Creator of the great, wild and untamed waters of life.