Flow Lesson #8: The River and its Tributaries

Materials needed: computer or tablet; loose sand or dirt; large square or rectangular Tupperware; water




Be still

Before beginning this exercise, take a few moments to be still and sense the presence of God within you. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you through this activity and reveal what he wants you to know.

A river and its tributaries

Search for images on your computer using the phrase “river with tributaries.” (If you don’t have access to a computer, try going to the library or a bookstore to search for a picture of a river with tributaries). Choosing an image to examine, take your finger and trace the different branches of the river. Write down a brief description of what you see.

Anita Gould Hudson River Valley, Flickr Creative Commons

Making your own river

Next, take a large rectangular or square Tupperware and fill it halfway with loose dirt or sand. Make sure the dirt or sand is moistened such that you can mold and shape it. Create some hills and valleys with your dirt or sand. Next, using three fingers together, create a wide, curving path symbolizing a river. Once done, create several smaller branches or tributaries with one finger. When you have created your river and tributaries, take a small amount of water and slowly fill the main river path, watching the water filling in the branches; you may need to adjust the amount of water you use or tilt the Tupperware to make all the branches fill with water. Write down a brief description of what you see, especially how the water moves over the hills and valleys you created.

Connecting with scripture

Now read the following passage from Ezekiel 47, verses 9 and 12, praying for insight from the Holy Spirit:

Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes … On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. (Ezekiel 47:9, 12)

Look again at your river and tributaries and reflect on these verses:

  • What does the main river represent to you?
  • What do the branches represent?
  • Imagining that this river and its tributaries describe your life, what story does it tell?

Reflecting on a recent part of your life, write down your experiences using the imagery of the river and the tributaries in your description.

Take this exercise a step further by going outside and gathering small green leaves and plants and placing them in your Tupperware to illustrate these verses.

  • What good things have come into your life as a result of your relationship to the main river and its tributaries?

Watch following video of “River of Grace” by Matthew Baute:
imagine where grace has taken you in your life, thinking of specific episodes; write them down. Include both the good and difficult times in your life as they come to you. After the song ends, look over your list and offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God for each episode.

copyright 2015 Susan W. Bailey;
from Chapter 4 of River of Grace: Creative Passages Through Difficult Times,
published by Ave Maria Press



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