“We are, each of us, stones skipped across the waters of the universe. The ripples of our presence, whatever it is, good or bad, radiate forever. As you go, in other words, so goes the world. Now tell me again, what is it in life that you want someone else to correct?”

– Joan Chittister, OSB

Being close to the river, and feeling soothed by its presence, I have been heading out almost daily with Lilly, or with Lilly and Noah, or, when work is through, with the whole gang, Lilly, Noah, Kota and Paula.

The first time I offered the idea up to Lilly it was met with a blank stare.

I spiced things up by adding Noah into the mix. The math with Lilly is simple at this age: add her brother to anything and she’s in. I just have to be the one to make the request; she’s often too shy to ask if he’ll sit next to her in the car, if he’ll carry her upstairs or if he’ll go on our adventures.

Noah’s a senior in high school. The math with him is a little more complex; AP Calculus to be exact. It’s not always automatic that he’ll want to (be awake to or be free to) go on an outing. But generally, if skipping stones is a part of it, he’s in.

My dad taught me to skip stones. I taught Noah. And now Noah’s showing Lilly how it’s done.


Sometimes we compete to see who can get the most skips. Sometimes we aim for the bigger gaps between the skips. Mostly, we love the hunt for flat stones. And especially, I love how the river mediates the currents between us; somehow, it makes it easier for us to talk with one another.

The two Sutra-s above, from Patanjali’s chapter on practice, are translated by Bernard Bouanchaud as:II-21  What is perceived exists to serve as object for the perceiving entity.
II-22   What is perceived no longer exists for the perceiving entity once the intent is fulfilled, but it still exists to serve others.

In a nut shell, what these Sutra-s describe is how everything that rises up, both inside us and in the world around us, has, on a spiritual level, been customized specifically for us.

For everything that arises, Sean Connery is there, reprising his role as the Irish-American cop in the Untouchables, asking our inner Kevin Costner,

“What are you prepared to do?”

Will I react to what’s coming up in me and to what I’m encountering in the world from a place of habit? Snapping back, blaming, woe-is-me-ing, defending, avoiding, going numb or clinging? (Those are my favorites – what are yours?)

Or will I respond – awake to my ripple – to what now needs.

The river awaits our response.  (And it will take our lack of a response as a response.)

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