What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?
Rivers. Idyllic Revelation rivers, the sort that are metaphors for grace and love. Water flowing from the city. Mostly hymns, actually. Flow, river, flow, flood the land with the Father’s glory… – where golden fields spread far and broad/where flows the crystal river.
Which reminds me of a mondegreen in another hymn: through gates of pearl streams in the countless host. I always took streams to be a noun, and pearl to describe the streams rather than the gates. I was probably extrapolating from ocean’s farthest coast in the previous line. Even now, there is a sense of clear light and clear water, in this and in all the new-heaven-and-new-earth hymns that I love. Flow is, somehow, part of that.
Flow is first cousin to current, which is a lovely fizzy word, but more scary and unpredictable. Flow feels steady; not necessarily strong or overwhelming, but reliably going that way. Flow belongs at the mature stage of a river, out towards the floodplain (oh, I remember building dams at the beach; there was an outlet of water from a bird park a little way inland, and we used to divert the flow and dig long trenches out towards the sea). Flow is calm progress.