Plain Old Water

One of the things that endeared Jesus to people was that his teaching was always practical. It came from the stuff of their everyday lives.  He cited examples that would have been a part of peoples’ daily experience.  He did not offer theology or philosophy that was so far removed that only the most educated scholars of the day could understand him.  As a matter of fact Jesus’ gritty teachings often confused the elite in a wash of misunderstanding.

One of the images Jesus cited over and over again was “water.”  In any environment, especially the desert, water is literally the stuff of life.  Without it, nothing lives.

Isn’t it interesting that our first “view” of Creation is that of God hovering over the waters?  Isn’t it interesting that of all the life forms on the planet from human to viral and everything in between, the one thing needed to survive is water?

The human body is 99% water.  Water seems to be the element universal that is no different in whatever life form it is found.  I know that sometimes people romanticize saints like Francis of Assisi who preached to the birds and Saint Martin de Porres who actually made a deal with the rats to get them to move out of the kitchen and into the garden. We tend to look at these saints’ actions as “good tales.”

Maybe we’re missing something.  Could it be that in the world God created, we are more connected with all life than we ever could have imagined? Would you have a different opinion of life and creation if you actually thought that we are inextricably connected with every life form that exists and that God wanted it that way?  If you knew that every living thing has the “water of creation” within it would you act and/or think differently?  Would your view change? Would that change your spirit?

As far back as the prophets in the Old Testament  we have clear statements that call our attention to the “wholeness” of all creation,

“Now ask the beasts to teach you, and the birds off the air to tell you; Or the reptiles on earth to instruct you, and the fish of the sea to inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of God has done this? In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the life breath of all mankind.” (Job12: 7-10)

Besides the teaching metaphors in the bible, the lesson of water is written  on the very land itself.  Even if you are not familiar with the geography of the Holy Land I bet that you have heard of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Genesareth, Sea of Tiberius), the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea.  As a tourist to the Holy Land you would have visited each of these. What most people don’t realize, though, is that these three bodies of water are oddly connected and contain a stunning lesson.

Consider the following: The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are not far from each other. They are connected by the Jordan River. The Galilee is sustained by underground springs that flow out through the Jordan to the Dead Sea. Galilee is full of life and still yields up the same fish today that fed Jesus and the disciples.

As water moves through the Jordan it feeds into the Dead Sea. Once there it reaches an impasse. There are no exits in this lowest body of water in the world.  Because the Dead Sea does not empty, everything that flows into it is retained!  Evaporation from the searing dessert heat concentrates salt to higher levels than any ocean. Oddly enough, this body of water, with no exit, can sustain no life.  That’s why they call it the Dead Sea.

There are many lessons that we can learn from the Waters of Life and the Water of Creation.  We all are made up of the same element which has the same nature in us.  When water is moving and being refreshed is gives vitality and life in all of God’s creatures.

What about the following questions:

  • Do you regard “Creation” as a thing for your convenience and pleasure?
  • What’s your responsibility and connection to other living things?
  • What’s your responsibility to the care of nature around you?
  • Do you ever feel stagnant?
  • Do you have the same opinions and thoughts that you did five, ten, or even one year(s) ago?
  • Are there things that you will not let go of?
  • Do you have resentments that you have carried for years?
  • Is your life and faith vibrant and growing?
  • Do you believe that as long as you take care of self and family that nothing else matters?

Water teaches us that to “stand still” brings death. Do you still believe that there are people and other living things that are beneath you?  Maybe you should rethink that.

Copyright 2014, Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn holds a Master’s in Education from Saint Xavier University. Most recently she completed Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from The Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. This recent degree was part of a “retirement project” after teaching for 35 years. She has also worked as a spiritual director, music minister,council member and prayer team warrior. Kathryn has a deep interest in catechesis for the people in the pews. As a “sort of” convert she finds the wisdom of the Church a source for encouragement, joy and survival in a world not sure of anything. Her writing has appeared in diocesan publications and on-line sites, most recently for Zenit. To learn more about Kathryn check out her thinking at:">

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