This river--16 years

It was just over 16 years ago
I had not yet moved to this town
this county
when I first rode this river
marvelling at the bamboo
what was to be

I had no clue 
what the move 2 months later would bring
wondered if I would survive
if I would be incredibly lonely
the contract was just for a year
I could survive that long
and leave afterwards

but I stayed
and stayed
and now 16 years have come and gone
I'm on the river again

16 years ago
on the river 
surrounded by others
strangers, inviting me 
to be friend and colleague
one especially who 
opened the door and made a path

Now I am the host
surrounded again

by those invited
to be friends and colleagues
former strangers
now inviting others

Once again I am surrounded
and wonder

Where will they go from here
these students who are leaving
they're still making their plans
setting direction
and finding companions for the journey
they keep choosing one guy
To be the friend with whom they share
and challenge
and walk
looking for ways to really make it
and live a life of depth
and honour
a life worth emulating

And I wonder
where will we go from here
my colleagues and I
we're exhausted
we've run hard
worked hard
developed something 
these past 3 years
the main parts

a complete 3-year program
all there now

But do we have what it takes to go forward?
the energy and heart, the passion
the skills
the commitment
I don't want to pour into a sieve
or a funnel
unless that is what it is supposed to be

this river
if we go on
there will be annual trips
celebrating with each group of grads that choose to 
"lead yourself, lead others"

the last 16 years
passed in a blink
the next will too
but where this river will take me
how many times I'll re-visit
only God knows

Creator of this river
You who know it's source
and where it goes
Lead my life
All my days
As I follow
and wonder

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