Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst;
the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
It is March. It is Lent. I have a rare day off without my little buddy, and I can hear the woods calling to me. I long to be a small fragile human among the giant rugged trees, to follow the old familiar paths, to hear the first tentative sounds of spring.
I enter the woods and find that spring is still trapped under ice and snow. I slip and slide my way along the glassed-over path, finding my footing where I can. There is only ice, and snow, and squelching mud. I feel a little disappointed—”This is not what I had in mind!” I say to myself, to the woods, to God. None of the spring birds are singing in the woods. It is silent and lonely.
But, the sun is shining, and the breeze is not too harsh. As I walk along I begin to notice little signs of a stirring world. I see buds clinging to the tips of the bare branches. The scent of pine rises in the air as my shoes crush the few fallen branches that have been freed from winter’s grip. Deep in the woods the stillness is punctured by the sound of water rushing, and I find a little stream that is running and running, down from the hills. There is life in the sound of the water rushing away to the sea.
If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:37) It is Lent and I am preparing to be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil; I am seeking living water. As I walk in the woods I feel as though I am being watched—lately, I always seem to feel this way. In the woods, in the car, as I drift off to sleep—the closer I get to the appointed time, the more intensely I feel like every cell in my body is being scrutinized.
The Church calls these final weeks of preparation the period of purification and enlightenment—a time to draw closer to God. I really thought I was as close to God as a person could be but, actually, no. It turns out there’s always more room for God. Sure, He pushes some things out to make space for Himself, but the more of Him there is, the less of everything else I seem to want.
It is Lent, and it is good to remember that the things of the world make a lot of promises they can’t keep. If you fill your cup with anything but God’s living water, you can drink and drink . . . and nothing but your thirst will remain.
The sound of spring!