When I served as chaplain at St. Jerome’s University, one of our students was from Iraq. He was here in Canada studying for an engineering degree with a focus on water. Before coming to Canada, he had been working in Iraq trying to restore the wetlands that Saddam Hussein had dried up by damming rivers. That lack of water had displaced thousands of people who depended on those wetlands for survival. In Canada, our student was studying the Grand River. He told me, that we will soon be facing a crisis of water in Canada whether we realize it or not.
Water is something that most of us rarely think about. We turn on the tap, let it run and usually don’t give it a second thought. We flush the toilet and dump all kinds of things down the drain to dispose of them, not thinking of what happens down the line. We cringe at the thought of many of our first nations members who must boil their water before they use it and yet water our lawns for hours to keep them green. The gospel this Sunday leads us to a precious well in the desert and an encounter with Jesus and a Samaritan woman. As you can imagine, finding a water source in the desert is literally a gift of life.
The gospel writer John using his familiar rhetorical misunderstanding has Jesus and the Samaritan woman both talking about water but misinterpreting the true meaning of what Jesus was trying to reveal. Ultimately, the woman begins to understand what Jesus is offering her — not water from the well but the living water of the Spirit. Perhaps this coming week, we could take some time to be mindful and thankful for the water we use every day from cooking to cleaning, from washing to drinking. It would also be a good time to think about the other water that God has given us, water to pray, to love, to care, to forgive, to create, to be in union. Let us all come to the water.