Faces on Faith: Water, water everywhere and many drops to drink
We know that without water our physical bodies would perish, and as I felt the high humidity this past week and waited for that blessed thunderstorm to drench us, I thought of how gifted we are in Southwest Florida with our abundance of water. Someone also happened to send me an updated photo of Lake Mead and that too made me realize the gift we have here of water. The dry striations on the rocky sides of Lake Mead where the level of water had once been was both sad and frightening. However, being gifted with the great aquifer of water on which we sit in Sanibel, and the potential of desalinization around us, I often forget the dire circumstances of much of humanity with the water shortage in so many parts of the world. Scientists have said for decades that the “new oil” in the world will be – or already is – water.
Here on Sanibel we sit on top of an amazing water source called the Suwannee Aquifer – part of the massive and intricate Florida Aquifer System that includes parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and almost half of the states of Georgia, Eastern South Carolina, and most of Florida! It’s incredible to think that this Suwannee Aquifer – that blessed water source – lies 700 feet below us and is about 200 feet in thickness at its maximum width. It quietly winds its way below us in circuitous routes and underground canal-like pathways, and sustains us without us even realizing it. Fed predominantly by rainfall, how cautious we must be with our use of chemicals and fertilizers that damage this life-giving water source – and can damage us as well! Yes, that chemical combination of hydrogen and oxygen that gives our bodies life, the essential H2O of humanity.
And what of the essential water of our spiritual lives? Does the necessity of that “living water of God’s love in Christ” get occluded because of the material demands thrust upon us? Do our worldly needs and pleasures appear to offer all the happiness and joy we need to survive, but which are a far cry from the living water that Jesus talked about with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. When she asked Jesus to explain, he said, “Everyone who drinks of the water from this well will be thirsty again. But those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water I will give them will become like a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
Do we realize that as essential as the Suwannee Aquifer is to us, so is the spiritual aquifer of God’s love, reflected in all of us in our words and actions, potential healing places of compassion, care, and forgiveness. That spiritual spring of water is able to seep into all of our lives if we acknowledge its potential and not dismiss the spiritual power in our midst, whatever our belief systems call that essence of Higher Power beyond our understanding. There really is no spiritual water shortage at all. We sometimes just don’t see those cool and flourishing pools of intangible living water right around us. We must begin to see them, and be them, for this spiritual water is as important, as essential, and as powerful as the water that sustains us 700 feet below our islands.
-Rev. Dr. Ellen M. Sloan, rector, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church