“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Ps. 63:1
Thus prays the psalmist in the psalm for this coming Sunday, the Third Sunday in Lent. It echoes the words of Isaiah 55:1 – “Ho, everyone who thirst, come to the waters;…” And our Lord’s final words on the cross, “I thirst.”
I write these weekly reflections by Wednesday each week and last week in particular, I noticed how much had happened from late Tuesday to the unfolding of Friday.
A devastating storm formed and struck in our country’s midsection with the damage continuing to unfold. A White Nationalist armed with hate and semi-automatic weapons killed 50 Muslim worshippers and wounded over 40 others, the youngest a child of three.
And we enjoyed an all-too-brief visit with our 16-month-old great grandson living in Virginia. We had those moments due to an unscheduled trip to visit with a seriously ill family member. Life happened.
As we were eating with our granddaughter and her family last Friday, little CJ noticed all of us were drinking, but his water hadn’t come as yet. He has learned sign language and sat at the table in the restaurant-provided high chair furiously signing, “I’m thirsty.”
It was adorable. We continued to assure him his water was coming, but he didn’t stop signing until his covered glass of water arrived.
Our assurances meant nothing until he could SEE his water had arrived.
He knew what he was thirsty for. CJ knew he would be satisfied when he saw the glass arrive.
Today’s lessons left me pondering about the deep thirst of the times in which we live, whatever time that is. If this Lenten season feels different, perhaps more jarring for some, there is a certain comfort in the words coming to us down through millennia.
Being thirsty isn’t new. We have a vast array of ancestors of spiritual ancestors who have experienced this same sense of being in the wasteland without the most basic element for survival – water.
Spring has begun. It is also the celebration of Purim for our Jewish brothers and sisters – a celebration of deliverance against all odds.
We thirst for simple things such as health, safety, calm and love. And we thirst for deeper things, well, I certainly thirst for deeper things. I thirst for real justice, compassion and mercy – FOR EVERYONE.
I thirst for the voices of love and compassion to be louder than the voices of hatred and discord, something well beyond “civility” which can be glossy words that cover the deep wounds of our people. I thirst for air I can breathe and water that isn’t poisoned and food that isn’t unevenly distributed.
I thirst for a world that recognizes, honors and embraces the beauty of our human diversity while seeing the basic truth that there is only ONE race, the human race.
Fortunately, there is a well that provides the water for this deeper thirst. The well of God’s divine love at the center of our world, our vast universe, all life.
I don’t know where these words will land a few days from now. But the words of faith will be there waiting for whatever is to come – “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters …” Our journey to the cross and beyond awaits …
Rev. Elaine Silverstrim is a retired Episcopal Priest.