Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
For centuries, pre-Christian peoples, living in the hills and river valley that would one day become London, made offerings to the River Thames.
The river in its untrammeled, natural state was three times wider than it is today, and would regularly flood to three times wider than that, a magnificent sight. These peoples knew this vast stretch of tidal water as "the Great River," and venerated its many gifts: abundant water, food, transport. A seat of divinity and place of primal power. Life.
Hundreds of these objects are displayed in the Museum of London. I felt genuinely touched in the presence of these lovingly fashioned offerings, blessings and invocations to the sacred river that flowed through the center of their lives.
Their reverence resonated so strongly, as I was born, raised and live still near the banks of the Mississippi River, also named Misi-ziibi, the Great River, by the Anishinaabek.
Loving one river creates a deep love for all rivers; feeling happiness when they are honored and cared for, and grief when they are not. Walking along the embankment, watching the rippling bronze water, I wondered: what could I make as an offering to the spirits of this river, still wild at its heart despite its concrete walls, locks and bridges?
I rejected several ideas as likely to get me arrested. But I felt a great, uprising surge of love towards the Thames, as kin to my own beloved river, which both flow into the surging ocean and mingle their waters far, far from land, in deep, winding currents only known by the whales and porpoises. And then I knew: all rivers are The Great River, as all forests are part of The Great Forest.
And I realized that love was my offering.