Tuesday, August 30, 2011

all my fountains

She was hard to miss in that neighborhood, dancing atop an egg-covered sidewalk, temperatures so high she just knew an omelet was soon to appear beneath her feet. As I pulled to a stop in front of the sign on her street, she knelt for a moment to examine a runny yolk then allowed the stillness of the air to lead her swiftly through her yard, the browning grass snapping as she began to leap about and land in one small patch and then another. She curtsied to a royal audience only she could see and lifted her chin to the sky, blond curls escaping from the knot at her neck and settling around her head like a veil on a bride. With a spin, she skipped to the shadows of the brick wall supporting her house and, bowing low, knelt to pick up a small umbrella lying in the grass.

With the determined march of what can only be described as a woman on a mission, she made her way across the driveway: goggles on her head, shoes missing from her feet, and a nod of acknowledgement ready for the lady retrieving mail next door.

Her parade led her to a lone sprinkler spitting out sustenance, a metal head bringing life to a dying ground. She bent her knees in the direction of the spout and thrust the umbrella between her and the sun. In one long jump, she pounced and moved beneath the stream, pink plastic shielding girl from water.

I watched as she stared up at the waltz of the water flitting across the top of the umbrella. Small fingers traced the reflection of each droplet as they gleefully slid off the edge and into the puddle awaiting their arrival. As the puddle rose and covered her toes, she twisted the umbrella’s crooked handle and allowed the dome above her head to collapse before her eyes.

She let out a surprised squeal as the now-forgotten shield rolled to the curb, and the water from above began to fall on unadorned shoulders. She loosened the fists that had formed when the first cool drop hit her skin and lifted her fingers toward the source. As her little hands tried to grab hold of the liquid raining on her, her body carried her forward, wanting to be as close as possible to the fountainhead.

As I drove past this little girl, wet curls flat against her scalp, I saw her close her eyes, unaware of all that was around her, until a moment came, when she opened her eyes and saw someone else that would benefit from the spray of water. Running toward him, she giggled and tried to explain what it felt like to stretch to the heavens and let refreshment come, to accept the incoming of water, those little drops of grace.

In this season of life, caught up in this Texas-drought, it only takes a second glance to find another person who seems to be walking through dry lands in search of a spring, a pond, any place with fertile ground where they can bury their roots. We’ve become a sea of thirsty-souls, dry throats begging for just a bit of something to quench our need. Yet instead of scratching to find the source, we throw up umbrellas and stare at the sun, wondering why we can’t feel the rain.

Now, with a new semester starting, I can’t help but wonder what I’m holding over my head: what I have now that I believe will satisfy me, and what I don’t have but hope will fill me. If I stood outside and stared at the heavens, would I feel the rain, or have I become comfortable under my umbrella? Am I holding my friends, my family, my job, my academic achievements, my successes, my failures over my head and expecting these things to actually end my drought? Am I dragging around a longing for more money, a future husband, a diploma, a trip to a beautiful country, and believing that once I have these things then I’ll feel the breathtaking sensation of water on my face? Or have I set down everything holding me back and thrown myself in front of the metal sprinkler?

Jesus, You said that if anyone thirsts, he should come to you and drink. We're so thirsty, Lord, and sometimes I think we're so dehydrated we barely realize it. Help us realize that You alone are the source of all that we crave, and the sweet water that we've been hunting for. Take hold of all that we are currently holding onto and give us the strength to leave it on this dry earth, so that we may close our eyes and dance in the sweet rain of Your presence. It is You who refreshes us, you who are called the Living Water. And we want more of you. So much more. Open the heavens, Lord. We’re in need of some rain.

“How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” (Psalm 36:7-9)