As spring comes, we begin to see the bare branches sprout and flower. We wait for the soft rains and watch the trees fill out with various shades of green. Rows of tiny green plants are seen amidst the fields of black soil. When the hot, humid days come, how refreshing the cooling rain becomes. Summertime and the action of creation display the splendor of pools, streams and rivers of living water. As in our prayer life, St. Teresa, who loved the gospel of the Samaritan woman, uses living water to teach us about the four stages of prayer. She begins with our struggle to pray and ends with the abundance of God’s grace drenching our very being.
Water is a powerful image. It is used in Scripture and in spiritual writings to illuminate mystery. Creation captures water's beauty; water weaves throughout our world. We delight in the rolling of the ocean waves as well as the rushing rivers. We experience serenity as we sit by the still lake. In desert land, there is a desire for water. During summer water quenches our thirst while we take pleasure in swimming away the heat of the day.
Spiritual waters permeate our souls as we take time to create quiet spaces. When we carve out a place of solitude and become a still pool, the Holy Spirit will fill our being with God’s living Presence. As still waters reflect the mountain peaks, the fragile blue cornflower and the various shades of green trees, so too, when one takes time for deep silence, God radiates within our souls, forming Christ’s image.
Scripture reminds us of how “the waters of Shiloh flow gently” (Is. 8: 6). In the eighth chapter of Isaiah, we learn the importance of remaining in tranquility. In Chapter 7 of St. John’s gospel, Jesus promises the believer that “rivers of living water shall flow” from within one’s heart. Jesus tells the Samaritan woman; “whoever drinks the water I give will never be thirsty; no, the water I give shall become a spring within (the heart of the believer), welling up to eternal life.” Water is often used throughout the psalms to denote longing for God. In Psalm 42, we pray: “As a deer longs for running streams, so longs my soul for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, the God of my life.” Water is a symbol of God’s grace used in our sacramental life. For example, we read “when the soldier pierced the heart of Jesus after his death immediately blood and water flowed out.” This blood and water could be a symbolic reference to the Eucharist and Baptism, as many believe.
Our loving God so longs to drench us with this living water. St. Augustine wrote that “we are the bread and Christ is the hunger”. May Christ’s hunger for our yearning for intimacy with God overflow into our hearts, and into all that we do. Eventually this becomes a gift to others. This is the ultimate goal of our lives.