The surface of the river is constantly changing. A small group of ducks rushes along, floating in the stream. The water surges around the stones that protrude into the river. Within a few kilometres the water will reach the sea. We would like to make this trip with a canoe some time. But for now we walk along the shore. We are at the Dee, one of the rivers that gave Aberdeen its name. It’s been three months since we arrived in this city in the north east of Scotland.
Once again, we need to get used to the busy roads with big buses and narrow or non-existing bicycle strips, but our years in Gillingham have made us quite assertive on the bike. We have a nice little house with a shared backyard, where Ivan can roam around. My days are filled with freelance work and job applications, which is quite stressful at times. It is great to live at cycling distance from the sea. Seagulls, seals — we have even spotted dolphins from afar.
We joined Queen’s Cross Church, a welcoming community where we felt at home right away. I was very happy when I heard that there will be a special church service for / about animals in October. I could not help sharing my ideas about animal equality with the minister. During a nice meal at our home, he suggested that I could contribute to the liturgy of the service. His approach is to be modest about our place within creation. I am probably going to give a short talk about my motivation to be vegan. A nice opportunity!
Walking along the river, I am reminded of a line from the Tao Te Ching, a book that I recently started to read. It is an old Chinese manuscript from the fourth century BC and is divided into short poems. The beauty of the text is hidden in the original Chinese. The flowing water reminds me of the line in the picture above this post. It means something like ‘The highest excellence is like water’. The text further explains why water is an example for a good life: “It benefits all things without striving. It ever seeks the low place, which all men dislike.”
Staring at the glittering and tumbling waves, I suddenly see myself in that canoe, in the middle of the river. Frantically, I push the paddle through the water while I try to decide which way I want to go. The water doesn’t bother about that. It is just being itself, and in this way does exactly what it is suited for. Something to think about!