bridge over the white salmon river

“Stand by me.” Ben E King

Stand by me in the water while we sing the names of the Lord.
Through the narrow gorge of the little White Salmon River
the echo of his name is a thunder.

Where it is not allowed to sing God’s name, we will sing it loudly.
Where his name is commonly spoken
we will keep an obstinate silence
as if we know nothing.
Who we are now is acceptable now.
The only truth is the name of the Lord
a name that can only be sung, never spoken.

The bridge across the White Salmon has been burned.
To reach the other side we would have to climb high walls of the gorge
where swallows build their nests in safety
or follow the snow melt river down to its mouth.
So clear is that water we may read the dates stamped on pennies
thrown into its wishing pool.
Take my hand while we wade in the water.

I don’t know if He is one or many.
I don’t know if He exists or does not exist
but I exist
and I find Him knocking at my door, calling my name as I am
calling His.

The Lord of my being, the one who beats my heart
knows the name of every leaf and every drop of rain.
He is my Lord, She is my Lord.

They say the White Salmon is too cold to endure for long
but we will endure.
We will wade in the river until the cold rise up our spine
to the back of the head
until the head open like a blooming
and the color of the mind becomes a yellow rose.

Let us go down in the river and pray.
We will study no more on differences between you and not you
between I and I am.
We will let the river carry us.
Even if we drown, we go on breathing in the water!