My husband had heard about a new park, with a paved path, not far from where we live. We had spent one Saturday morning searching for it in an area behind a nearby neighborhood where we thought it was located, to no avail. Finally, last week, Eric asked the coworker, who had originally told him about the new Metro Nashville Park, to give him the specific directions to its location; and last Saturday, on a comfortable cloudy day, we had the opportunity to explore the park.
As we approached the trail, we noticed right away three signs directly in front of us, at the junction point of the path. Curious, we stopped to read the signs. Right away, I noticed a word on one of the signs which seemed to pop from the text. . . Riparian. (I feel sure I’ve seen this word before but I honestly don’t recall having ever seen it.) I asked Eric if he knew what the word meant. He guessed its meaning based upon the context of the sign, but he too wasn’t familiar with the word. Intrigued, I wanted to find out.
Thankful to have my phone with me, I quickly asked Siri, “What does the word riparian mean?” In less than a second, I heard the answer and saw it on the screen of my phone, from the on-line Dictionary:
“Riparian means of, relating to, or situated on the banks of a river.”
As I read further, I discovered it can also mean “of or relating to wetlands adjacent to rivers and streams.”
Eric and I read the details of these three signs and as we walked along the riparian zone, I researched. (I couldn’t help but think my Daddy would be proud of me. Ha!)
As one of the 15 terrestrial biomes of the earth, according to Wikipedia, a riparian zone serves many purposes including:
soil stabilization, restoration, and protecting aquatic environments from excessive sedimentation, polluted surface runoff, and erosion.
These zones act as a “sacrificial erosion buffer” to absorb the impacts of encroaching urbanization. The various plants which grow in these areas are typically emergent aquatic plants or herbs, trees and shrubs that thrive in the banks close to the water.
The Riparian zones provide shelter, food and shade for wildlife. A plan has been implemented to help restore these areas around the world called the “Biodiversity Action Plan” or implementation of a “Plant or Vegetation Waste Buffer.”
On Sunday, Eric and I walked on another path behind the Brentwood YMCA. Again, we saw a sign, and you guessed it, the sign described a Riparian Zone.
At church, that night, our pastor’s message was on the recreative work of God in our lives, focusing on Genesis 1, especially verse 12, And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself, according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. He shared how when we become born-again in Christ we receive His seed and truly are a new creation. We go through a restorative process in our soul.
This week I have discovered there are at least forty-six Scriptures about plants or being planted next to water. There are many more verses about the living water. These words speak volumes to me:
For as the earth brings forth its bud,
As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,
So the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
(Isaiah 61:11, NKJV)
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
(Psalm 1:3, NKJV))
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
I have titled this post, Riparian Zone or “Repairian” Zone, realizing how God is in the repairing work. He loves us so much! He loves us from the beginning when we are full of “weeds” but over time he creates us to be trees of righteousness when we trust in Him.
I am amazed how God speaks to me through nature and through His words about nature.
How has He spoken to you?
A few days ago I saw a Facebook post from a man who used to go to my church. He was honoring his elderly mother in his post. What he shared touched my heart deeply!
This morning I was thinking about how Mother’s Day will soon be here and how I miss my Mother. I often reminisce about my childhood and special times I had with my Mother growing up. She was a people person, “never meeting a stranger.” Mother loved to reach out to neighbors. There was always a pot of coffee perked at our house, ready in case a neighbor dropped by.
I sometimes question myself, “Did I honor my Mother as a child and an adult?” I know I showed love to her. I hugged her lots. I listened to her directions and I tried to obey. Although like many adolescents and young adults I remember a period in my life when I didn’t appreciate my Mother enough. I strayed from the values she and my Dad taught me and modeled. Thankfully, In my early twenties I realized this and apologized. When I had children I tried to stress the importance of family and respecting our elders.
Today, though, I wonder, did I honor my Mother well? Maybe that’s one reason I dedicated this website to my parents and grandparents.
As May is the month for Mother’s Day, it will be fun to hear from you about how you honor or have honored your Mother. Please sign up so I may post your comments.
In the early morning hours of March 17th, I was very restless, not being able to sleep. Why? I don’t know for sure. All I know is I couldn’t get back to sleep. After hours of praying mostly for sleep to return, I felt compelled to get up, go outside in the dark, pray and wait for the sunrise. The sunrise was glorious!
It was later that day when I realized the date, March 17th, the anniversary of when my daddy had passed into glory in 1990. My dad, Vulus Raymond Dowell Jr. (V.R. as he was called by my mom or Bud as he was called by friends) died on this significant date after a battle with colon cancer. It is interesting to me how restless I had been in the early morning hours on this anniversary and how I had felt compelled to see the sunrise.
My dad, like me, loved to be outside enjoying nature. He valued God’s creation whether it was noticing the intricacies of a wildflower, fern or microbe. I recall my Aunt June, dad’s only sibling, sharing how dad as a child loved exploring the wilderness areas near their home town, Liberty, Kentucky.
As an adult, my dad continued to have a passion for exploration. He became a pioneer in the field of microbiology earning his PhD in this new field from the University of Cincinnati. To do so, he had to sacrifice a lot as he worked to earn his way through school while also supporting a family.
Dad was also willing to make a difficult choice to follow his passion when he chose to move our family from Clifton, our beloved community of 8 years, to a “foreign land” Atlanta, Georgia to conduct research at the Centers for Disease Control. I know this had to have been a difficult decision for him because my mom, my sister, Linda, and I were not happy at the time to be moving. (Polly was too little to voice an opinion, but she may recall our cries.) Later, I think my mom, sisters and I acknowledged dad had made the right choice.
For several years towards the end of his life, dad served as the director of the Anaerobic Bacteriology Department at the Centers for Disease Control. After long years of study and devotion to a purposeful career, God gave my dad the opportunity to write textbooks and to travel to many countries in the world teaching others about his findings.
Daddy was a person who loved to share what he was learning. I remember there was a time when he taught Sunday school. I sometimes wish I had been in his class. I would have liked to have heard what he taught his students. Did he ever talk about his childhood discoveries or teach them about his awe of God’s creation?
Daddy went to heaven at the age of 62, my current age. There are so many questions I wish I had asked my dad when he was alive. Being the oldest of his four daughters, I was blessed to have been a part of his life longer than my sisters. Yet, for a good portion of my life, I was consumed by my own experiences going to college, graduate school, teaching, being a wife and mother away from home in Kentucky and Tennessee.
I don’t think I realized the magnitude of my dad’s accomplishments until after he was gone. That’s often the way it is, isn’t it? We, in our humanity, often don’t realize the treasures we have in our parents or show them the full honor they deserve until it’s too late to do so here on earth. I am thankful, though, my daddy knew I loved him. But more importantly my dad knew God loved him.
I have come to truly believe my dad accomplished, in his sixty-two years, what he was called to do here on earth. Heavenly father was pleased with dad for persevering in the work he was called to do, following through on the passions he had been given.
There is a mystery as to why beloved Christian family members and friends are sometimes taken home at times which seem too early. But I do trust the promises shared in God’s Word to you and me. There is good news! One day we will experience a great reunion in heaven. I look forward with hope, anticipating time I will spend with my dad as he shares with me the amazing discoveries God has revealed to him. I look forward someday to exploring the new heaven and the new earth with all my loved ones and don’t want anyone to miss out.
What an amazing time it will be living in fullness of life in the radiance of God’s glory, praising and thanking Him with joyful hearts!
On March 17th after enduring a restless night of little sleep and then being led to see the sunrise, I remember feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays. I, however, experienced even greater warmth in my heart as I penned the words of the poem I have posted along with this article.
Today I want to dedicate this poem to my dad. I also give God the glory for giving me a dad who loved me well and taught me to appreciate God in His creation, nature and people.
Reflection: If you are struggling with doubts or fears about tomorrow, try reading God’s love letter to you. By spending time reading Romans 8, I pray you, like me, will discover glorious Hope.
In the Old Testament, David, who had spent many a night as a boy and man looking at God’s creation and depending upon God along His life’s journey shared these words:
11 You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to
You and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You
Forever. (Psalm 30: 11-12, NKJV)
Prayer: Father in Heaven, you have a destiny for each one reading this article. I pray they may see You and know You more deeply. May we trust You to guide us through our life’s journey.
Read See My Son’s Glory Poem here