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A Little Faith

Within my Christian tradition, Good Friday is a somber day. On Good Friday we remember Jesus' betrayal by Judas, his crucifixion at the hands of the Roman Empire, his words of forgiveness from the cross, his broken body laid in the tomb. Yet, we who walk in the way of Jesus know that this is not the end. We believe the promise of Easter awaits.

Many years ago as a boy, I stood with my Dad by the Blackstone River. It was Good Friday. We stood with others from our small Baptist church, to lament centuries of pollution. The river once home to 36 species of fish was now deemed incapable of life. My pastor likened the death of our river to Jesus crucified on a cross and laid in a tomb. For three days Jesus was thought to be dead. For three days humanity held its breath. 'Could it be' our pastor asked, 'that this river too, may one day be restored to life?'

It was at that moment, I realized this ancient story was not about the past, but about the present and what might be. 'All we need', said our pastor, 'is a little faith'.

Looking back on that morning, I imagine most of us saw only a river in decline. In truth we had long turned our collective back on the river. Yet, our pastor on that morning 50 plus years ago, had a sense for what could be. He saw what was possible. That which theologians call 'the not yet'.

This has always been the way with prophets. These are the women and men who are graced with a vision of what can be. In 1972 Congress passed the Clean Water Act. Ensuring that our waterways were worthy of protection, setting in place a longterm plan to restore our polluted and hard used waters to health, to life. Ground Zero for this vision, was our Blackstone River.

Today a recreation corridor stretches from the headwaters in Worcester, MA 46 miles to the confluence of Narragansett Bay, R.I. People fish, paddle and cycle alongside this river. No longer do we turn our back in embarrassment for what we had done, now we embrace our river with gratitude for what we have collectively accomplished.

The indigenous people, Nipmucs and Narragansett, know this river as the Kittacuck, which means 'great tidal river'. They have always known that this water is sacred. Worthy of our respect and devotion.

Together, the communities who call this river home, are involved in the sacred work of restoring this water to health. Both for now and the generations to come.

'All it takes', my pastor said to me as a boy, 'is a little faith'. True.

Where are you in need of hope this Holy Week? May you too be grace with healing and hope.

With you on the journey ~ Kent Harrop

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