“You cannot step twice in the same river, for other waters are always flowing on to you.” –Heraclitus
“Don’t dwell on what can’t happen; you will never reach your goal.
The ragin’ rivers always in your way.
You can’t predict tomorrow and your yesterday’s are gone.
All you control is time you have today.”
Rivers along the trail can present a myriad of troubles. Travelers always had to be concerned when it came to the crossing of a river, or even a creek. Whether it was an individual crossing a rushing mountain stream, wagons fording rivers along the Oregon Trail, or a herd being driven north to market, these waterways constituted the greatest dangers along the trail.
Along the Chisholm Trail, lightning strikes and drowning were the most common way for a cowboy to meet his Maker. Those riding to the downstream side of the herd had to be careful that a steer didn’t bump into them and knock them into the river’s current. Those on the upstream side had to worry about the rise of water as the cattle would dam up the river. At any point, if a cowboy fell into the water he would be hard-pressed to survive, especially if he became entangled with the herd.
There are other dangers that may be present: quicksand that can cause an animal to get bogged down, debris floating down and striking the horse and rider. There may be a strong current that cannot be observed looking at the surface. There may be a rock and other items in the river. Dozens die yearly in the waters of the Rockies because of hitting their heads on rock as they are swept off their feet by the rushing current; rocks that are not seen, but are underneath the surface. If you saw, or read Lonesome Dove, you may recall that quirk of an event when the rider and his horse were struck again and again by moccasins; hidden under the surface. Sometimes a person just never knows when crossing that river.
Yet in life we must cross the rivers in front of us. To not do so would leave us in a quandary, leave us with no forward motion and we may falter back into despair. The obstacle is there; the river may be raging, or it may be hiding its mysteries under the surface. The current may be swift or it may be swirling, but there is no choice so into the water we must plunge. Our training, our experience, our knowledge, our courage and the hand of the Lord will be with us. The promised land awaits, but the rivers of life must be crossed.
“Afterwards measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed over.” –Ezekiel 47:5 (KJV)