Encountering new springs of hope and soothing currents of compassion
Thirst is a powerful motivator. We thirst for more than water. It takes effort to delve beneath the surface to reveal other thirsts in our lives. Lent is a time to explore our thirsts. We thirst for love, security, protection, power, wealth, status, recognition, stability, control and many other things. Thirst often leads human beings to make choices with the hope of quickly satiating their longings. It is difficult to live in circumstances that may feel like torture in our souls and that test our faith. Questions plague our hearts and minds as we continually ask … how will you provide for me, God? Do you know that I am suffering? Do you care about me? Where is the water of your presence in my life? In times like these we can experience myopia. We hear this dynamic personified in the first reading for the Third Sunday of Lent as we listen to the plight of the Israelites grumbling and complaining to Moses in their thirst for water and better living conditions. They beg and plead for the days of the past, remembering with nostalgia their lives in Egypt, yet not with accuracy of experience. They feel abandoned, cast into a desert filled with suffering.
We all have a propensity to remember the good times, the ease of life routines, even if, in reality, they were hard days. We yearn for recognition of who we were because we are in the midst of becoming who we will be. In times of great change, our worlds turn upside down and it feels impossible for something good to emerge from the chaos. But returning to the Scripture, we see that God does not leave the people stranded. God provides waters to quench their thirsts and assures presence among them. They are not forgotten.
We will encounter thirst again. But in these inevitable times of turmoil, reassurance, encouragement and renewal can provide not only relief but also long-lasting memories of God’s continual companionship. Each time thirst reappears we have the opportunity to make a choice: to either turn to God in prayer, seeking guidance and consolation, or to look for the nearest escape route. While there are situations in which removing oneself is the safest course of action, there are times when life is simply difficult. In those moments, the question at hand is, how do you deal with discomfort in your life? Who do you talk to and share your feelings and thoughts with? How do you walk with thirst in your own desert experience?
The desert appears once again in our Gospel reading with thirst is woven into the story. Jesus encounters the unnamed Samaritan woman at the well. In pithy dialogue, each responds to one another and asks questions, going deeper into an exchange of beliefs and explorations of truth. All the while, they are not supposed to talk to one another. Jesus is a Jewish man, and she is a Samaritan woman. These two facts of life should bar them from any socially-accepted interaction, yet drop by drop, they deepen conversation. The waters of judgement vanish into the desert terrain, as they each discard who others say she is and what she has been told about men like him. New values and insights are revealed as they each surpass social barriers. Their thirst motivates them to learn more rather than to stay in the dryness of unbending tradition and beliefs. Within the depth of the other, greater value is discovered. She reveals her spiritual depth and belief that the one called Christ will come. He reveals that He is the one she has heard is to come.
We are all invited like the Samaritan woman to quench our unrelenting thirst by seeking a dynamic relationship with God. Each time we choose to enter into dialogue with a discerning heart, we will encounter new springs of hope and soothing currents of compassion. We will reveal the depth of who we are and welcome all of God fully into our lives.
As we continue this Lenten journey, may we take time to pause in the oasis of prayer, and allow God to refresh our souls.
Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, www.fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.