One of the most wonderful things about serving as the Rector of St. Stephen’s is walking into the Rector’s Study each morning and looking out the windows at the beauty of Minnehaha Creek, flowing gently toward the Mississippi River. The Dakota called this tributary “Wakpa Cistinna,” meaning “little river.” They called the waterfall near its confluence with the Mississippi “Mini Haha,” which really means “curling water” or “the waterfall.” Minnehaha has often been mistranslated as “laughing water.” The playful nature of that phrase, however, describes what many of us have discovered in the sights and sounds along its banks. These are daily reminders that the hand of God has been at work in this place for a very long time indeed – long before the Dakota arrived here and long before human beings first explored this area after the end of the last ice age.
Every year, as spring draws to a close, we mark the change of seasons with prayer and laughter and a little fun. Together we ask God’s blessing on the creek and on those who will enjoy it throughout the summer. People explore its currents in canoes and kayaks and inner tubes. They wade into its waters and splash around with delight. They listen to its babbling when struck silent from grief and sorrow. They occasionally discover a “thin place” between the outside of our church and the edge of the creek. That’s where the veil separating heaven and earth is almost imperceptible. There we know that God is real. For that reason, at the end of the summer, we gather back at the creekside for our annual baptisms in the flowing water. It becomes living water and brings, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, new life in the Spirit. That gathering is a high point of the year for many of us.