There are several versions of this parable but in general they go like this.
There's a river and one day someone notices something floating in the current. Its a dog in one version, or a cow, or a baby, or a person and worse a dead body.
The rescuer pulls whatever is floating by out of the river. In every version the appropriate action is taken to care for what has been rescued.
This happens again. And again. More animals, more babies, more bodies. In one version broken pieces of boats and canoes also flow by.
In every version the rescuers get good at rescuing. In one they even build a hospital.
In every version someone finally asks something like "where are these -- animals, babies, bodies -- coming from?"
Then the variations multiply. For some the work of rescuing means so much that they are reluctant to leave their efforts to look upstream. Some are eager to go but worried that they will not be up to what could be an even sterner task. Some go and find even worse circumstances.
In several versions they stop whatever is upstream causing victims to be caught in the current.
This parable became part of our conversation in Tuesday's most recent meeting of the Circle of Love support team.
Look for more information about their plans elsewhere in this and following newsletters.
As we have rightly focused a new and vibrant interest in the work being done through the shelter in Greene County we are already to a point of considering a bigger picture, to thinking upstream to the how we might address the causes or triggers or preconditions whose outcomes are all of the category: domestic violence.
Looking upstream is not only a consideration for this committee but it is really a strategy and -- even better -- an organizational model for church.
How we look upstream -- not just as an additional effort of our outreach commitments -- and consider the preconditions for the current problems we face becomes a rehearsal for how we look at the world. And often that call to consider more will have to meet the demands of an already stretched but comfortable set of responses.
There may very well be costs but there are no substitutes for going upstream.