Down the stream

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.

Bridge of Dee

Bridge of Dee

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!