With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation! Isaiah 12:3

This fall, I was part of a learning group of pastors in Santa Fe, New Mexico. As part of the time together, we traveled to Bandolier National Monument and hiked the ruins. Along the way, our bus traversed a tall bridge over the Rio Grande. Our guide, in speaking of the river, called it “exotic.”

When she finished, I asked her to circle back to the word “exotic.” What did it mean? The guide, a retired professor, said it meant that the water in the river channel didn’t come from the land around the river. At least not along that part of the Rio Grande.

Most rivers have all kinds of tributary sources that refill them along their route. But exotic rivers flow through lands that don’t contribute new, fresh water. The water in exotic rivers comes from a different region than the land it waters. In the case of the northern Rio Grande, the water comes from the Rocky Mountains. And, at least in the Santa Fe area, there is no other source feeding this river. It’s “exotic.”

I tried to imagine living on the banks of an exotic river. A river that starts elsewhere and flows through land it waters and enriches. A river along which cities spring up and people thrive.

To me, exotic rivers speak of grace- those things that come to us as pure gift. We don’t add to them or even contribute, but they bless us. To live on the banks of an exotic river means the blessings that flow past are a gift from far away. My friends, we do live on the shores of an exotic river- the river of God’s love for us. Ponder today the gifts that come to you, not because you have earned them, or contributed in some way, but just as grace.

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