Here in eastern Pennsylvania, we’ve recently had four days of rain. Sometimes it came as a downpour, sometimes as a drizzle, and I welcomed it all. We needed rain after our hot, dry summer. The grass, the newly planted perennials and shrubs, the trees shedding dry brown leaves, all needed a good soaking. And, as water seeped down through the soil, it began to replenish our aquifers.
Aquifers are those deep places underground where water saturates a layer of permeable rocks. They are earth’s water storage tanks. At some locations this groundwater bubbles up and creates springs and streams. Often we humans have to dig down to reach an aquifer and bring the water up. The well outside my house burrows deep underground to bring us water for the laundry, for taking a shower, and for a sweet fresh drink. We need aquifers! During a drought, however, they are not being refilled. And, unfortunately, some of them around the world are definitely shrinking because we use the water faster than it is replenished.
Water is life; we cannot live without it. The Hebrew scriptures, shaped by a desert culture, frequently describe our human need for water – and they compare it to our need for God. The Psalmist wrote “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for You, O God.” (Ps. 42:1) Isaiah calls across the centuries, “Come, all you who are thirsty; come to the waters. . .” (Isa 55:1) And he wasn’t referring to the well at a nearby inn!
In the New Testament, Jesus was traveling through Samaria when he met a woman drawing water from a well. He told her he offered “living water,” and that, when she drank his water, she wouldn’t be thirsty again. It would be like unlimited refills from a spring that doesn’t run dry, from an aquifer that doesn’t need replenishing.
The Great Aquifer of God never shrinks or needs replenishing. Sometimes it bubbles up in a fountain of everlasting love, and we can rejoice and run about in the spray like children. Our lives are rich and full and joy-filled. We are immersed in God’s presence and are grateful.
But there are also hard times when our spirits are thirsty, and we seem to have lost the connection to the Source. It can feel like we are traveling through a barren land without a green oasis in sight. We wander without a clear direction, lost in a dry world with problems that seem unsurmountable. We desperately need a drink from God’s Great Aquifer.
In those times, we often grow quite frantic, looking everywhere for water that will sustain us. What we actually need is to be still, to take time to quiet ourselves, and to send roots deep from wherever we are. We may need to clear out all kinds of loose rocks, all kinds of clutter in our lives to find a still place. I invite you to picture yourself as a tree sending roots deeply into the soil, trusting that your roots will reach God’s Great Aquifer. And it is there. It never runs dry. Then you will discover that you actually are “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season.” (Ps. 1:3)
Yesterday a friend told me how strongly rooted she feels these days, as though the roots of her soul are drawing sustenance from an underground source. She is a graduate student, a wife, and a mother of young children, and she knows what it is like to be running dry! But now she is filled with a humble gratitude and a renewed clarity about her life. Listening to her trying to describe the indescribable, I knew she had tapped into the Great Aquifer of the God of Love, and I was glad.
Blessed are those which do hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled. Matt 5:6
If this reflection has spoken to you, please share it with others.