At the river, there is a pool both deep and wide. It is ringed on three sides by boulders, willows, and alders, and on the fourth side by a sandy beach. Dragonflies zip back and forth over the shining water; swallows and dippers busily hunt for insects; and green fish with gold sparkles on their backs investigate every new movement. Humans shed all clothing and immerse themselves naked in the sacred waters.
The water here has dropped down from a smaller pool above, in a cascade through boulders as big as cars. Each season the pool starts high and full, and the water is cold and fast as it emerges from the boulders. It rushes toward the far side of the pool and bounces upstream, causing an eddy that catches debris and foam. As the season goes on, and the water gets lower and warmer, algae begins to grow on the bottom of the eddy side. If left alone, the pool would shrink into a smelly green pond.
But the people who love this river do not leave it alone. At the downstream edge of the pool, at its lowest point, they make a beautiful ridge of rocks that extends part way across the stream. Water flows over it in a clear smooth silken curve. The rate of flow is the same as before, but the pool is preserved.
Each rock is placed with love and care, precisely where it is needed. The people who love this river want not to divert it, but rather to preserve its beauty. They pay close attention, because they know that you can change the course of an entire river by placing a single pebble in the right location.
You can change the course of an entire river by placing a single pebble in the right location.