A Parable: The Greatest River in the World

There is a great river, by far the greatest river in the world. It flows from a single Source, high, high in the snow-capped mountains, in the clouds near to heaven. No-one has ever seen this Source, but some brave souls have approached it and they all say that the water that flows from it in such incredible abundance is crystal clear, like a mirror. It is utterly pure, has a transfiguring power and a taste which they can only describe as ‘Divine’.

As this great stream descends from the mountains, it becomes ever broader, as it has many tributaries, great and small. Descending to the plain and the forests, there are many other tributaries, a few quite large, but many very small. Indeed, water seeps into the great river from all along the banks, on the left and the right. Some of this water brings mud into the river with it. Indeed, it is important not to go into the shallow water along the edges and fringes of the river, for there is much mud there. Much better is it to venture further out, into the mainstream, where the water is deep and pure and there is no sign of mud at all.

As the river is so powerful, sometimes it bursts its banks and overflows. Once it has gone down and returned to its bed, it leaves pools of water by the banks. Some of the water in these pools seeps back into the river and so into the mainstream, but some of it remains in the pools. Here it stagnates and smells, attracting mosquitoes, and eventually it becomes mud before it altogether dries up.

As for the greatest river in the world, a huge and unimaginably deep and broad stream of pure water, it ever powers on and on, majestically and irresistibly, towards its destiny, the Great Ocean, the Ocean that is called the Ocean of the Love of God. And the name of the river? It is called Holiness.