Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday in the first week of Lent

Psalm 55  Deuteronomy 11:18-28  Hebrews 5:1-10  John 4:1-26  

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never again be thirsty.” (John 4:13)

            In the gospel reading, Jesus asks for a drink from the Samaritan woman drawing water from the well. Although the passage culminates with the announcement that he is the Messiah, I particularly like Jesus’ description of a spring to suggest God’s ever-replenishing love within us.

            When I first moved to Charlottesville many years ago, I volunteered at Ivy Creek Natural Area, guiding elementary school children along the paths. I never lost a child although a few baby frogs suffered from little gripping hands. My favorite trail skirts the field, allowing the children to feel the warmth of the sunshine and imagine all the critters that live in the brush between the field and the woods. Entering the woods, we would make so much noise that no creature was to be seen unless we looked under a rock or closely at some decaying wood. A huge beech tree spired by the reservoir’s edge, its smooth, silvery bark beckoning the children. We would then move up the hill passing the Old Spring, used by the Carr family in the 1870s as a source of water and storage. Mossy stone walls enclose three sides of the spring—a cool, peaceful place.

            Fifteen years later on a cold, blustery day, I returned to the spring and the old beech tree. The tree had toppled, leaving its sprawling trunk lying in the reservoir and a jagged, decaying stump. As I walked up the hill to the spring; the mossy stone walls created a welcomed green amidst winter’s grays and browns. Leaves covered the ground including the spring. While no bubbling or moving water met my eyes, soaking rather than iced leaves lay within and below the spring’s walls, evidence of the living water flowing through the layers of ground and into the reservoir.

Perhaps on a warmer day, you may visit Ivy Creek, sit on the weather-beaten bench overlooking the spring, and contemplate. Jesus tells the woman at the well that for everyone, “[t]he water that I shall give will be a spring of water within him, welling up and bringing eternal life” (John 4:14).

— Kelli Olson

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