Don’t Push the River

Midweek Devotion

December 9, 2015

Don’t push the river. -Richard Rohr 

Imagine standing on the bank of a river trying to figure out how to shove it forward.

A river doesn’t really need our help. It doesn’t worry about the rocks and trees in its path. It will find a way around them.

White Water

I like that analogy because it reminds me how often we push too hard. Life will flow on without all of our trying. 

I teach violin, and the more I work with children, the more I am reminded of this principle. Even when there seems to be no focus, no direction, and no progress in the practicing, we have to trust that our child’s natural growth process is occurring.

Shin’ichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki method, calls it the “mother tongue” approach. Children learn how to speak their native language by exposure, indeed they cannot not learn it. They will learn to play music as part of their natural development if they have an environment of music, an environment of daily repetition, an environment of support.

The same is true of life. The things we yearn for, the progress we would like to see, the accomplishments we strive after, will come as part of the natural course of things, if we allow ourselves to be open and influenced by an environment where they will flourish.

So don’t push the river. Don’t worry about the rate at which you or your child is progressing. I tell parents: “Just get them playing and listening, support them in that effort, and we’ll take care of the rest in lessons.” In life the same is true: just get playing, get out and into the environments that feel right to you, and the resources you need to support you will come in time.

Take a GoodMinute

In what ways am I trying to push the river?

What environments do I respond to energetically and positively? What can I do to put myself into those environments even more?

How can I help the children in my life to flourish in their natural development and growth, without pushing the river?

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