Thirsting for Living Water – Lent Week 3

I cannot remember the first year that water bottles became ubiquitous companions of seemingly everyone from preschoolers to senior citizens. Today, designer flasks, which are larger and more insulated for freshness, have replaced plastic (better for the environment and our health). Apparently, no one may leave the house, even for short trips to the grocery store, without access to hydration. When did we citizens of the world become so thirsty?

Heading into the third week of Lent has always raised this question. For decades, I accompanied seekers of Catholicism in the RCIA process. Lent is a very intense time for them, especially when they participate in the Scrutinies, ancient exorcism rituals, on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays. Special stories from the Gospel of John given them rich archetypes and themes to apply to their lives. The first of these stories about the Samaritan Woman (aka the Woman at the Well) focuses on her deep, unseen thirst for a better, more meaningful life. She hides this spiritual thirst from everyone, except Jesus, who she unexpectedly encounters when she is drawing water from Jacob’s well at the hottest time of the day. Jesus is just passing through and has sent his apostles into town to get take-out while he rests. He intentionally positions himself so he can talk to this outcast about his well of “living water” which will never leave her thirsty. She ecstatically abandons her bucket of water and runs to tell everyone her good news, completely satiated by the love flowing from someone who actually saw what she was really craving.

Last week, my nineteen-year-old grandson and I spent the day together. He graduated high school in the Spring of 2020 when everything was shut down and has spent the first two years of college online. A natural introvert, he adapted well to the confines of his Zoom classes but recently confessed to me that he is bored now and feeling restless to get out more. Since he had expressed interest, I invited him to accompany me to the Laguna Beach Art Museum. As we meandered through the exhibits, I could see how thirsty he was for in-person experiences and was delighted by his thoughtful comments. When we left the museum, he was also drawn into the magnificent view of the coastline, the allure of the ocean, the tidepools below and the white waves hitting the shoreline. My heart broke a little when he disclosed that he missed the ocean and could not remember when he had last been there. After a quick lunch in Dana Point, we headed for the beach, just to gaze and breathe in the salty scent of natural living water. My eyes stung with tears (I hid these from him), the holy water of the Spirit, as I reveled in this rare moment shared between grandmother and grandson.

Perhaps the water bottles that have become part of our daily lives can remind us that our spirits need be hydrated as much as our bodies do, especially as we emerge from the pandemic and engage with the world again. The young need the old. The old need the young. We are parched and continually thirsty for one another. We both need to drink from the well of living water which naturally flows in abundance from the tributary of Love. Like the Samaritan Woman at the Well, only these personal encounters with the Living Christ, rising from being present to one another, can and will satiate our deepest thirsts.

2 thoughts on “Thirsting for Living Water – Lent Week 3”

  1. I love this! We do need the old as much as they need the young. I hold the memories close of the days spent with my Nonny enjoying the sand and salty air.


  2. Ahhh, what a gift to share with Ethan your presence and being present to him. The spirit was moving with your whole day lending exchange and moments of peace. I could feel it from your writing….tears wash, cleanse and make our hearts focus even more on what’s in front of us. Young and old need each other, that’s true!! We learn from each other and you allowed the time for this to happen. To many more shared moments for you!


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