Blessing for the Well

Blessing for the Well © Gail Doktor 2018

This blessing remembers stories
Of a woman who waited
To offer drinks of water from the well
To passersby in exchange
For something else:
Kinship, connection, survival, recognition, coin
Or maybe just a smile
And a spoken word
Of hope and thanks

It recalls tales of a man
Who dug his roots beneath the desert
Near the bedrock of an oasis
Far down until water filled its darkness
And brought back generations
From wandering
Returning always to that
Node of life and time

It recounts myths about prophets
Shouting and praying
Walking and talking
To themselves or someone hidden from the others
Striking the earth
With the heavy heel of a worn staff
That brings up gushing springs
Enough to satisfy doubting, thirsty souls

It remembers a holy one
Who sipped from the tainted cup
Offered by the stranger
Called accursed,
Foreigner, other,
Sighed and gave back a blessing:
Promise of more and better
Yet to come

This blessing knows the well
From which you drink
May remember those stories
And call them its matriarchs and patriarchs
Yet it comes from this place
Draws its depths out of local geography
Dropping through layers and foundations
To tap the waiting pool
Sweet or pungent
Potable or poison
Clear or contaminated
Safe or sick-making

This blessing digs down with you
And knows that whatever you find
Below ground
Is what you may call yours
And helps you discover a way
To filter and cleanse it
Pump and pipe it
Draw it up and out
Spilling into the bright light of day
To flow out into the need
That hasn’t yet been met

Lent Day 24: DRIED

lent24_dry_fishToday’s word is DRIED. We often refer to the embodied connection between people and God. Such metaphors place us in our earthly, messy, physical world. They plant us inside our own mortal, fleshy, vulnerable bodies.

When something is dried out, it is withering and dying due to lack of moisture. Or it has been deliberately preserved by removing fluids.

How do people dry out? What depletes us? Sometimes it’s real; we are thirsty. In literary terms, often it’s about lack of energy: mental, emotional, or physical.

lent24_dried_broken_earthIn this case, the Psalmist equates green, fertile soil and waters with life, and dry, parched places as sites of wasting, weakness, suffering, and death. Famine and drought was often a theme in the agrarian societies of the Bible, and the risk of starvation and suffering and death was real. Wandering in the desert, the deadly wilderness where Israelites were lost for 40 years, was also part of one of their greatest narratives: Exodus. Restoration of strength and vitality comes when we have access to Godself and the benefits that come from God.

And yet, at other times in these texts, dry ground is the path to safety. For instance, in Joshua, it was the crossing point through waters that otherwise overwhelm, such as the Jordan or the Red Sea. Life came with release from bondage, and trust in God’s goodness and power, through a covenant relationship.

Ultimately, Gospels and the writings of Paul compare Christ to a wellspring of water. Our Messiah’s love and grace serves as a font of life, too. Baptism, one of our sacraments, includes water. The sacrament of communion includes juice or wine, the liquid drawn from the pulp and flesh of the fruit of the vine, representing also the life and blood of Christ. We have a long history of encounters with water and wine among people of faith.

When you have felt withered and dried up, whether emotionally, psychologically, or physically. What revived and restored you? In what way do you need to be connected to yourself, to others, to creation, or to your God? Often disconnection is the source of the drying-up.

During Lent, we encourage disciplines of self-care, reflection and spiritual practices. These can be ways of seeking renewal.

As you renew yourself, you are also capable of caring for others. Caring for others, thinking and doing for others, is another focus of our spiritual Lenten practices. We can become wellsprings of resilience and hope for others, too. We can refresh other people, and parts of the world, with our choices, words, and acts.

  • Psalm 32: 4 — For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
  • Psalm 32: 3 — While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
  • Joshua 4: 14-24 — For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you crossed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea,which he dried up for us until we crossed over.
  • 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15 — 14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.

Lent Day 14: WILDERNESS

Wilderness … this is the ultimate location for a Lenten journey, even if it’s metaphorical. The wilderness is the  mythological place where civilization ends. It’s where you go when the garden is closed to you, when towns and cities aren’t safe, or the busy hubs of humanity are too noisy and busy to allow you to find your own spiritual center.

crossing_mountainsWilderness is the place where roads stop, maps cannot offer a definitive blueprint for the paths in and out, and the GPS shows a blank screen. The place in scripture where trials occur and miracles show up, for the people of Israel,  prophets like Moses and John, and even for Jesus.

Wilderness is the place where people are lost and tested and confused and stuck and changed. Where people stay for 40 years or 40 days … If people return from the wildlands, they’re often different.

Several faith communities are using the book Lessons from the Wild Wood as a Lenten guide this year… as in invitation to get lost. To make mistakes. To fail. To learn from our own vulnerabilities and flaws, and grow as spiritual beings by taking risks.

wilderness_mtWho are we when we come back from the wilderness? If you make it back, perhaps you went through a time when you felt abandoned and alone. Yet if you come back, and you reflect on that time, perhaps you recognize the ways that God was present even in those remote spiritual or physical sites. Often people who return from the wilderness are more actively spiritual in their beliefs and practices, and they can point to specific examples of how God showed up for them.

Not everyone makes it back. The wilderness can cost your life. The journey can take its toll. Whether we’re talking about spiritual or bodily journeys … the risk can be real, in either example, when you step into the wilderness. And the resulting transformations from such a time apart in the wildlands can be just as real.

Lectionary scripture excerpts below:

  • Then the Lord said, “I do forgive, just as you have asked; nevertheless—as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord— none of the people who have seen my glory and the signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tested me these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors.
  • Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.
  • When they were few in number,of little account, and strangers in it, wandering from nation to nation,from one kingdom to another people,  he allowed no one to oppress them.