The River

by John Wyatt
copyright 2008

I struggle through Life’s forest,
Carrying my sacks of Grief –
My burdens.
Sacred Baggage.
They define me; they make me who I am.
Who would I be, without them?

I come to a river and along the bank
I see many boats.
Each of a different hue and cut,
Each barely enough for one.
Silent Boatmen,
Each standing beside their boat.

Along the bank I see People,
Waiting to cross.
Each clutching their precious bags.
Their lives.
They beckon to Me,
“Join us! A beautiful boat will be by soon!
So large, so wonderful, enough to hold us,
Baggage and all!”
They gaze upstream, eager to catch sight of
The Promised Boat.
I can join them. I only have to

Boatmen, each standing beside their boat.
For Me.

Silently I move toward the boats,
Each different from the next, yet
Each promising

Boatmen, silent Buddhas, tend their
Empty boats.
Each large enough for Me,
But not for my bags.

I set down my bags and choose a boat,
It seems to offer a ride that suits.
As I step towards the boat, its
Buddha speaks.

“This boat is for You, but you need not enter it.
You see, the River and these Boats exist
Only to give you cause to lay down your burdens.
There is no path to follow, no river to cross;
Only burdens to shed.
Having set them down, you are now free.”

Now I play in the river.
Sometimes I take boat rides.
Sometimes I open my discarded bags and wonder,
Why had they been so precious?
I can take them again any time I wish.

I think I’ll take another swim.
I am free to choose.