On Sunday Afternoon
"A River Runs Through It"
Norman McClean came to writing late in life. His novelette about a Presbyterian minister and his two boys and their interwoven lives, all connected through a love of flyfishing the Big Blackfoot River in Montana is continues to be a touchstone in my life, and in the lives of other Christian outdoorsmen.
The last three paragraphs bear repeating, given my rambling thoughts on this, the 3rd Sunday in Lent:
"Now nearly all those I loved and did not understand when I was young are dead, but I still reach out to them.
Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn't. Like many fly fisherman in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not stare fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a fourt-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one and a river runs through it, The river was cut by the world's great flood and runns over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs.
I am haunted by waters."
It is the universal solvent and that simple, chemical compound without which life would not be possible on earth is an enigmatic compound, serving man in all of it varied states of being. It covers seventy-some-odd percent of our planet. I makes up seventy-some-odd percent of our body mass.
And sometimes, if flows hot and salty from our eyes in the form of tears. We experience pain and grief. Death comes unbidden, sometimes unexpected and we grieve. Separation from God, from a beloved human, from the core of one's own being...a soul wrenching, heart rending tearing apart of relationship burns deep...and we weep!
A Celtic Death Prayer:
"O God, give me of Thy wisdom,
O God, give me of Thy mercy,
O God, give me of Thy fullness,
And of Thy guidance in the face of every strait.
O God, give me of Thy holiness,
O God, give me of Thy shielding,
O God, give me of Thy surrounding,
And of Thy peace in the knot of my death.
Oh God, give me of Thy surrounding,
And of Thy peace at the hour of my death!"
- The Celtic Vision, ed.~ Esther de Waal
The Woman at the Well:
OK, She's been "married" what, five times? She is openly living with a man who is not her husband. -AND- She's an unclean, pig-eating, dog -runnin Samaritan. She went to the well in the heat of the day when she would not be derided, spat upon and possibly taken to be stoned by the Pharasic Jews.
- How did that midday, public interaction conclude? The Samaritan woman was thirsty for water...the water of life. She could use it to fix food, to cleanse herself and to slake her thirst. Her physical being thirsted for water, for fulfillment, for completion. What was manifest in her physical was a deeper longing in her spirit. Her spiritual being also thirsted for completion.
Let me say that again... Her spiritual being thirsted for completion.
What Jesus promised her was the water of life everlasting.
" The water that I shall give will be like a spring welling up with eternal life. "
Then Jesus went on his way, down that inevitable road that led him to Jerusalem, to the culmination of his ministry. He walked, resolute, a narrow road to certain death. He healed by using water: rivers and spittle and tears. Always ~ It was the connection of earthly water with the true water of eternal life.