I had a passing memory of a song that included the word “downstream,” used with the sense that someday we’ll meet again and renew a love relationship or friendship that seems to have grown cold. I looked hard to rediscover the song. After a twisting online search, I actually found four possible candidates, and none of them seemed familiar to me.1 However, I did find intriguing lyrics in a song by a relatively unknown Melbourne, Australia, artist who goes by the name Wybie,2 in which he seems to be saying an awkward goodbye to a friend/lover:

If something should come down and block us and get in between,
Just carry on; I’ll keep floating and meet you downstream.
But there’s so much water, so much water, so much water, so much water, so much water . . .
If something should come down and block us and get in between,
Just carry on; I’ll keep floating and meet you downstream.3

 These words spoke to me in a number of ways. First, there’s a sense of inevitability about the fact that our relationships will go through a lot of struggles — “so much water, so much water . . .” There is sure to be separation over time, geographical, physical or psychological. Second, there’s an acceptance that we are helpless before many of the forces that will come up against our relationship; we feel like we’re “floating” and have no power to control the changes that seem to be moving us apart. But there is also a strong likelihood that our currents will converge again, maybe way downstream. And, you know, whatever once drew us together, will be there again when we meet downstream, maybe stronger than ever. In the meantime, “Just carry on.”

 Then this idea struck me: Maybe the best application of these thoughts is not to human relationships, but to our relationship with God. We can probably all think of times when we felt separated from him, when our prayers dried up into hollow words, then disappeared altogether. We were traveling down the opposite side of the River of Life. Could it be that God was singing that quiet song of reassurance? “OK, drift away, float with the current. I’ll just carry on. But someday I’ll meet you again downstream.”

 We’re watching the younger generations move away from the personal Christian faith our families have tried to impart to them. They have been excited by the new adventures life seems to be offering them, drifting away: “so much water, so much water.” We feel helpless as we watch them floating aimlessly with the current.

 May God grant us the faith and patience to see them move away from their faith roots but still have the confidence that somewhere downstream they will meet him again. And they will recognize him! And he will recognize them!

— Pastor George Van Alstine

1The other three songs that popped up were

— a French folk love song from Auvergne, known as Bailero:

“Shepherd, the stream is between us, I cannot cross

Wait, I will get to you downstream.

— the title and lyric of a song by 1970s Kansas City rock band Sniff ‘n’ the Tears.

— the title of a different 1977 song by the English rock band Supertramp.

 2 After the name of a supporting character in the animated “horror” movie Coraline (2009). Wybie is the nickname of Coraline’s friend Wyborn Lovat, a misfit whose name is intended to signify symbolically his loser status: Why-Be-Born.

3 https://wybie.bandcamp.com/track/meet-you-downstream