On being in an Oxbow

(Photo: Green Acres Community Garden pond, Bloomington, Indiana)

(revised 3/29/17)

Dedicated to C.


16 years ago in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I learned about ‘Oxbow’ lakes.

It was once a curvy segment of a moving river. But, through the accumulation of soil and debris at key points, it became gradually cut off from it’s source, resulting in a freestanding ‘C’ shaped body of water. Meanwhile, the river rolled on . . . nearby, but apart.

You can see these geological tracks of togetherness and separation from an airplane. They are easy to spot…  a sparkling  long length of river down below, and to the side, that curvy shaped rest station of the water highway.

The Australian Aboriginies call it ‘billabong‘. In Texas, off the Rio, it’s called ‘Resaca‘. The heart calls it ‘time out‘, or ‘solo‘.

Life benefits from this oasis.  Yet, it takes courage, and sometimes a measure of defeat, to bring us to the Oxbows of our lives.

Whether by choice or not, once there, it can cradle us outside of regular reality.

The water is still enough to see through the murk below us, and inside of us.

We have time to think, and rethink, to accept the suchness of what is. Time to surrender the resistance and struggle, and regroup our center.

Time to come out of distraction.

If we still ourselves in this place, we recognize our noises and shifting to get comfortable are just one part of a larger insect orchestra, whose sound and beating wings swell up in the evening.  Their stereo humming and thrumming vibrates us out of our thinking state and into our feeling place in the Web-of-all-Things.

Ultimately we understand that we are always in connection, even when isolated.  Even when we are sidelined by life.  Our ability to be individual in the presence of a great flow of All is part of the paradox of life.



Remember. . . the amniotic fluid you once dwelled in, is now within you, flowing through your adult spine, as cerebrospinal fluid. . .  Oxbows and rivers shared water at one point too.

Love, like these waters, is a source of things, a continuity. It is not the ending.

It is the dance of together, then apart.  Over time, over distance.  Back and Forth.  From movement to stillness.  And back again.

(Intimacy is moving between these things, done tenderly.)

May all those in an oxbow moment know that nearby the river runs, swift and continuous. . . Bringing the fresh, the flow of time, the busyness, the reconnecting to a different kind of outer world.

It will be there, when you are ready.

But don’t rush.  

Spirit worked to maneuver you here, to still you for a purpose.  So, immerse!

Lie back in the boat, see the blue sky, and wonder.

Let go.

Let the aching part of you be rocked in the water currents made by wind.

Perspective, clarity, and feeling the heart let down its tension is the point.


2 thoughts on “On being in an Oxbow

Add yours

  1. Such a beautiful passage. You are absolutely right. The oxbow has purpose, and is tenderly connected by MANY things. It shows us how things really are. Gives us a place of respite from the relentless flow and rush. It is peace and care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Thanks Erika! And sometimes we have to get plunked there instead of choosing it… and sometimes in choosing it we don’t have to take so long there to get refocused. Thank goodness for Oxbows.


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