The river flowing from the temple is a fascinating. In the middle of a seemingly practical tour intended to provide instructions, the blueprints for rebuilding, there is this image of a river. A very dramatic and miraculous river.
Where this river flows, there is life. It clarifies salt water, brings life to a desert: it makes the land flourish There are even marshes where the salt remains. Which, side note, is intriguing, isn’t it?
So the first thought is that God is promising to make the land flourish for Israel. So long as the temple remains the center of their lives and worship, God will breathe life into their land. (In which case, those marshes would simply be appropriate maintenance of biodiversity, of wild spaces, right?)
The second thought is that the metaphor goes deeper. The life that flows out of the temple isn’t merely for the land and prosperity of Israel, but rather Israel itself. The chosen people were always meant to be life and light to the world around them. They were always meant to be bringing others into the covenant. As long as the temple remains the center of their lives and worship, they will flow into the world, a source of life to their neighbors and all they encounter. (In which case the marshes are what? Only relevant to the first level of the metaphor?)
There is something intense in vision literature. There is a reason it has captured the imagination for use in myth, folklore, and fantasy literature. I genuinely believe it is because our innate experience of reality goes well beyond what our limited language can express. There is a reason that impressionist and abstract and surrealist art has a power to captivate (not all examples, but good ones). There is a reason music has the ability to stir the deepest emotions. There is a reason metaphor is vital to communication.
Words will never be sufficient to truly communicate the nature of reality or the complexity of existence. Any attempt we make to define anything will always fall short, and attempt to explain anything will always be an interpretation. I cannot actually express how I felt reading this bit about the river. What I have written is only a start.
I suggest we all practice meditation a bit more intentionally, sitting with Scripture, getting the feel of it, accepting the mystery of it.