Imagine The Kingdom (Thursday)
The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Revelation 7:17
Always water. Waters to pass through on the exodus journey. Waters to plunge into on our baptismal journey. Waters to cleanse. Waters to purify. Waters to quench thirst. Jesus as “living water.” And “streams of living water” flowing from within those in whom the Spirit dwells. The River of Life in the new heavens and new earth.
Jesus calls those who are blessed “thirsty for righteousness.” Wet tears stream from those who longings go unsatisfied. It would seem that our very bodies are living demonstrations of our organic connection to water. Indeed, 60% of the human body is water!
As I write, I’m mindful right now that while I was in the frigid frozen tundra of Michigan yesterday, I sit today poolside in Phoenix, AZ where in my line of sight a large, stony bridge pours forth gallons of glistening water into a sky blue pool. The water meanders through a series of rocky canals above, winding down until it passes over a time-eroded curved edge, plunging ten feet into the waters below. And then, what was above and what was below are one.
Augustinian monk and Villanova professor Martin Laird writes, “We might liken the depths of the human to the sponge in the ocean. The sponge looks without and sees ocean; it looks within and sees ocean. The sponge is immersed in what at the same time flows through it.”[i] When I consider Laird’s words, I think of what my friend Jason said on a retreat I led not long ago. He said, “I experience God when my body descends into the water, when I am suspended in it. That’s what it is like to be in Christ.”
The water descends from the stony waterfall above and then it plunges into the depths, becoming one with the expansive waters below. The Spirit plunges as streams of living water into our very being washing and cleansing and purifying and enlivening and refreshing in ways our baptism promised. Our tears are joined with these waters, our lives entangled with God’s life.
And the Lamb guides us here, says St. John. To the struggling churches he writes his apocalyptic letter as a message of comfort and imaginative vision. The Lamb – slain and risen – is both the guide and the Living Water, the forgiving victim and the refreshing stream. In the final chapter of his vision, St. John writes, “Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.”
If I’m honest, I seek to be joined with many different things. I look for connection and oneness in a thousand different places. I long for the living waters, but look in empty wells.
But for a moment now as I peer ahead at the plunging waters, I long to fall into the goodness of God. How about you?
Living Water, you refresh and cleanse and purify and heal. You long to wash over me in a flowing fountain of grace and peace. And I long to plunge into your depths. May I fall into the refreshing goodness of your Oneness. Amen
[i] Martin Laird, Into The Silent Land (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 17.