Living Water

There’s a marshy piece of land behind our little red house that is overgrown with tall grass, burdocks and goldenrod. On occasion a wildflower—or two—will peek its pretty head out from the overgrown tundra that has become its unexpected home, thanks to a bird dropping a seed en route in its flight south for the winter. Mostly, though, this marshy piece of land is made up of tall grass and weeds.

When my husband and I first moved in, we tried mowing this area so it would blend into the surrounding landscape. It was not to be. Even in the driest of dry spells the mower would sink down into the still wet and muddy earth beneath.

“It’s just useless,” my husband would say, noting the look of disappointment on my face.

“Really? Perhaps I can try?” I offered.

A look of fear washed over his face. I knew what he was thinking. He would come home one evening from work to find his wife and his beloved riding mower sinking quickly into the marsh. I tried my best to assure him I wouldn’t do anything stupid, at least, not attempt anything stupid when he wasn’t home to help rescue me—and his mower.

Still I was not ready to give up on my vision of an unmarred rural New England landscape, one that would rival those pictured in a Country Curtains catalog.

As a teen I would bypass all those teen-cult magazines talking about how to zap a pimple or get a cute guy to notice you. My reading pleasure was a Country Curtains catalog. I would stare longingly at the pastoral views that were pictured beyond the multi-paned windows draped with material hanging on rods. I wondered what it would be like to live with views like that? (I now wonder now how many curtains did I buy from that catalog all due to my intoxication with the view and not the curtains per se?)

I no longer had to wonder. Each window from our little red house looked out upon rolling hills, cornfields and the green mountains of Vermont. And everyday, no matter how the day was going, whenever I looked out the windows, I smiled and thought, “Wow. I have my very own Country Curtain views.”

All except for that darn piece of marshy land right in back of our house. It was an eyesore to me.

My husband suggested we could turn it into a pond. Perhaps. But until then, every time I sat on the back porch there it was right before me—tall grass and weeds blowing in the wind with only the occasional pretty wildflower—or two if I was lucky—peeking out to cheer me up. I soon began to wonder why was that little piece of land always so wet?

One day as I took our bumbling Bernese mountain dog, Sofie, for a walk on our sprawling five acres, I got my answer. There up a ways from the marshy piece of land was a tiny steady stream of water flowing and feeding down into the weeds and tall grass. I walked along the stream of flowing water trying to find its source. Was there a larger stream? A pond somewhere I didn’t know about? A brook? I kept walking…and walking…and walking. I found no such bodies of water that were feeding this steady stream that nurtured my marshy piece of land. Perhaps there was an underground spring of sorts.

It was time to turn back to the house as the sun was beginning to set. And so we walked, me with my feet on dry ground and Sofie, of course, with her paws happily prancing in the tiny stream of flowing water.

As we got closer to the little red house, I saw something I had never seen before. There in front of me was the most beautiful tall grass blowing in the wind. There in front of me were these goldenrods made ever more golden by the sun’s setting rays. There before me was not a marshy eyesore I so badly wanted to get rid of. There before me was something beautiful created by living water coming from an unknown source feeding the grass, the burdocks, the weeds, and yes, even the occasional wildflower—or two.

Jesus talked many times about offering us living water—water that quenches what is dry and parched and brings life and hope back. Living water was a metaphor those in Jesus’ day would understand for out in the wilderness, after the much needed rains would come, water would be “alive” flowing on its own power bringing the relief those who were thirsty needed. The flowing water was viewed as powerful, mystical, sacred…and beautiful.

We all need living water. Water that not only quenches are deepest physical thirst, but living water that flows in our lives with a mighty God power, carrying us and leading us to all that is lush and all that is truly beautiful.

I looked down at Sofie still with her paws in the living water we had just discovered on our property, when all of sudden she assumed a hunting position with nose pointed forward, one front paw extended with one of her hind legs reaching back the other direction. I held more tightly onto her leash so she couldn’t lunge forward to get the beautiful red winged blackbird that swooped in and landed on top of the tallest pieces of grass swaying in the marshy piece of land that I had once thought was an eyesore. It was no longer that. I now saw it for what it really was. It was a sanctuary for God’s creatures—a sanctuary created by living water.

Life can’t be an unmarred pastoral landscape. We try to create such, but it just can’t be. Life needs a marshy piece of land with weeds and tall grass and burdocks and goldenrod and that occasional wildflower or two. A place touched by the power of living water which then becomes a blessing to those all around.

And so the marshy land still stands behind our little red house looking prettier than any Country Curtains view I could have ever hoped for.

It stands as a testimony not only to the power of living water on our property. It stands as a testimony of the living water I know that flows in my life, the only thing I need when my soul is parched.

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The marshy piece of land, fed by the living water on our property, sits to the left beyond our old stonewall. It’s no longer an eyesore, but a beautiful sanctuary for tall grass, burdocks, goldenrod, the occasional wildflower or two, and yes, even weeds. And the birds love sitting on top of the high grass.

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