TIN CUPS OF COOL, COOL WATER
READ: John 4:1-15
“On the way to Galilee, Jesus came to the town of Sychar in Samaria. Here was located the historic well of Jacob. Jesus, tired by his journey, sat down to rest by the well. A Samaritan woman came to draw water from that well. Jesus said to her, ‘Might I have something to drink?’ … Surprised by this, she said, ‘Sir, you are Jewish and I am a Samaritan, yet you ask me for a drink?’ [Tradition at that time did not permit association between Samaritans and Jews.] Jesus answered, ‘If you only knew what God is offering and who it is who is asking you for a drink of water, you would have been the one to ask for a drink, and he would have given you living water.’ She answered, ‘But, sir, you have no bucket and the well is deep. How do you plan to get this living water?’ … Jesus answered, ‘Whoever drinks the water from Jacob’s well will become thirsty again; but no one who drinks the water I give will ever be thirsty again. The water that I give will become a spring of water bursting forth from within, welling up to eternal life.'” – John 4:5-11,13-14
When I arrived today at my hermitage, I found my writing companion, the friendly raven I have named Barnabas, sipping water from a glass I had left on the porch. During the night, a gentle rain had come and Barnabas took advantage of his good providential fortune. He did take a moment to acknowledge my arrival, but continued with the quenching of his thirst.
This sight brought to mind a hot summer I spent working in the muck fields of the Florida glades. The area around Lake Okeechobee was a land of rich soil, perfect for growing sugar cane, corn, and garden crops. Among my chores were such labors as loading watermelon on trucks, cutting celery and picking tomatoes. All of it hot and humid work in the sweat of a Florida summer. One of my duties was to drive the water truck around the fields, bringing cool, fresh water to the workers. When I would pull up they would bring their water cans to be refilled, but they also would take a tin cup and drink down some iced, cold water right from the spigot. The water they took with them would soon warm up in the fields. Those workers loved that cool, cool water, a drink tasting far better to them than could ever the finest champagne. I recall how vital I felt was my work, this work of bringing cool water to overheated souls.
A well-known gospel song, a song I learned early on in my walk with Christ, has the lyric …
“Fill my cup, Lord;
I lift it up, Lord;
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul.
Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.”
Nothing wrong with the sentiment of that song… we all would be wise to remember to keep filling our souls with the cool water of heaven, yet, I believe that the song ought to go further on. The song should go on to remind us that the cool, living water we do receive from God is to be then poured into tin cups and taken to thirsty souls who are out there working in the fields of life. Quenching our own thirst is indeed a most necessary first step in Christian discipleship … but the work is not fulfilled with only that … we are also called to take that water to others.
So make this image one vivid in your minds … When you encounter others in life, make your life – your words, your attitudes, your facial expressions, your acts of generosity, mercy, and charity (that is – tangible love) – “cups of cool, cool water” given to them. May the fresh, living, sweet water that springs up from within you from a heavenly place on the other side of your soul pour forth from your life into tin cups to help quench the desperate thirst of an overheated world.
Brother Anthony of the Cross