I have thought about just letting this blog go—the brief moment of inspiration fled and I figured that the world could do without these words. Except apparently it actually cannot. I tampered with the idea of writing a post about water last week, feeling inspired by the post about wind and listening to the world around me. I didn’t write down the post immediately which tends to cause me to forget about it. However, a few nights ago my grandmother told me I think you should do a post about water. Just like Mia from Princess Diaries I cried “SHUT UP,” of course only meaning “Wow, gee whiz, golly wolly” (these quotes are from Princess diaries, I got the second one from the website linked ). That is when I really knew that the water post wanted to be written and it wanted to be written by me.
Water is just as essential to our life as the air we breath and the food we eat. Despite the fact that as a small child I hated swimming (due to that fact that my brother dunked me in my baby pool when I was 1) I love the water, I love being next to the water and breathing the sea’s salty sweetness in. I have found that no matter how far I may roam I love the idea of being near the sea, or at least some body of water. I have been to Nice, swum in the Mediterranean and seen the incredible blue of the water. I have been to Turkey, smelled the familiar scent of mud that I am so accosted to from home. I have lived in Scotland and walked beaches that provide access to the North Sea. I grew up on the coast of South Carolina and grew to love the comfort of the salty air, the breeze and sea. I have felt that familiar embrace here in Scotland.
Out of all my encounters with water from my time abroad, Scotland’s has been most similar to my SC experience. The sand is a bit finer, the water a bit colder and the breeze a bit chiller but the color is the same dark green and the sound of waves crashing on the shore reminds me of being at home.
Water is not just limited to rivers, lakes and seas. Trust me, Scotland has no shortage of water, the country is known for massive amounts of rain. Actually, the sea and the rain is not what caused me to think about this post, no, it was a creek on a walking path I took last week. The weather was exceptional last week, clear blue skies and chilly air—perfect walking conditions. I went down a path that takes you behind houses in St. Andrews under the cloak of trees and beside a bubbling creek. As I walked I listened to the water tinkle like bells as it ran over stones, as it ebbed and flowed along its path, as it crashed down dips to form a mini waterfalls and as it roared a bit louder as it picked up speed. I listened and I thought—I thought of how central water is to life and how relevant it is to our faith.
We are baptized in water, some as small babies sprinkled with holy water, some dunked as children or young adults—in rivers, lakes, the sea or basins in a church. Though our baptisms may all be different the meaning is still the same: we become members of Church and the community of faith. In my case my parents and the Church made the promise to raise me in the church and in the knowledge of my Lord and Savior. Water is at the center of this concept.
“The Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Water is a powerful thing and something that is used throughout the Bible:
“Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country”
Nothing beats drinking cool water on a hot day or when you seem to be dying of thirst. Since living in Scotland I think I can relate to what this is saying, it soothes the soul to know that my family and friends are thinking about me and to hear from them is a wonderful blessing.
I think this next verse is one that I can also relate to, I was in a place where I turned my back on God and I ran and created plans for myself, assuming I knew best.
“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water”.
I find that if I run from God, ignore God or halfheartedly seek God I am thirsty—not physically but spiritually. I find that the wellspring of my strength is dried up and I am left in a dessert desperately seeking water, living water. This concept of living water is found in the above passages, but also in one of my favorite passages from John. John 4, Jesus and the Woman of Samaria. When I was in undergrad I did what is called an exegesis on this passage and I dug in and discovered some truly amazing things about this passage, and I have never looked at the concept of living water the same.
I believe that the Samaritan Woman and her interaction with Jesus can teach us about who Jesus was/is and how Jesus meets us right where we are. No matter the sins that we have committed, no matter the dirt that covers us Jesus meets us there and invites us to drink of the living water. Now there is a bit of a back story to go with this passage, I will try to make it short. This passage is significant because Jesus crosses the boundaries of many different challenges: Samaritans and Jews were at odds with one another, and this woman was a Samaritan; she was a woman and she was a woman at the fringe of her own society (she was what one could call “loose”). Jesus crossed these boundaries and met her in the midst of her messy life, our messes may look different than this woman’s but I know for certain my life is no less messy than hers. Jesus reached across societal lines and met her right where she was:
John 4: 7-15
“A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria? (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I may never be thirst or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
How many times have I not understood the living water that Jesus is offering me? The life Jesus has offered me? Too many times to count I have refused the living water Jesus has offered me to instead drink of the water that will not cure my thirst. Too many times I have not understood what my Savior has told me. I love the Samaritan Woman for many reasons, she reminds me that my Savior is not scared of messiness and will always meet me in the midst of my mess. She reminds me that there are times that I cannot grasp who God is and what God offers me (she does later in the passage realize who she has met and preaches the good news to the people in her community, a powerful woman who brings many to Jesus). She is a real and sinful human, she serves as a reminder that Jesus does not exclude but instead embraces us all as we are—that all are welcome to drink of the living water.
Water is a powerful image. I have listened to the water of that creek tinkling as it flowed over stones, the crash of the waves on the shore and the drops of rain thudding on my jacket hood. I have felt the refreshing relief of drinking cool water on a hot summer day, I have felt the cool sweetness of letting my feet be washed by waves and I have felt cool raindrops fall on my open hands as I walk home in the stereotypical Scotland rain. Water refreshes, renews and brings life. My friends will you drink of the living water?
My dear brothers and sisters, I cannot express the healing my heart has experienced from writing these posts. Thank you to all of you who read them and who follow me on this journey. It has brought me joy and reminded me that I am not alone. I send you so much love.
May the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Peace, Love, Joy and Blessings—Margaret