One day, a small stream came bubbling up out of the earth high on a mountain top. As she flowed down the side of the mountain, she grew. At first, she tumbled over huge rocks and fell down great heights. She grew into a good size river that passed through valleys and past rolling hills across all kinds of countryside. In time, she slowed and came to the edge of a vast expanse of desert sand. And here, she could not pass. She did not have the strength to carry herself across the sand and every drop of herself that she threw evaporated in the desert heat.
One day, she heard a still, small voice. It was the sand itself: “The wind can cross the desert. And so can you.”
“How is that possible?” she protested.
“That is what the wind does,” came the quiet voice from the sand. “Only you must give your consent to be lifted and carried.”
“But how do I know that I won’t be lost forever?” she said.
“You can’t know. You can only trust and allow yourself to be transformed,” said the sand.
“Can I not simply stay here and be a river?”
“That is not possible in any case,” said the sand, “for you were never a river only. You are water. With time, change will come no matter what. We have seen it a thousand times, for our reach is thousands and thousands of miles, and we have met many thousands of streams and rivers. If you choose not to let the wind carry you, you will disappear or become a quagmire and that only after many, many years.”
She could think of countless arguments, practicalities and reasons to stay, but she felt a pull in her heart and knew that, as odd as it seemed, she had to grant her consent to the wind. And so she closed her eyes, sighed and raised her vapor to the waiting arms of the welcoming wind. She felt herself rise as the wind carried her swiftly and easily up and across miles and miles of desert and far out to sea. And then the wind released her.
As she fell gently into the sea, she felt another tender presence in the deepest rooms of her heart that silently let her know: “A river you are, yes, but never other than this also. Are these—both—not your truest essence?” When she felt herself in the loving embrace of the vast ocean, she knew that it had always been so.
“Those who believe in me,” said Jesus, “from their inmost being will flow rivers of living water.” Here in the middle of the Lenten desert, can you hear the gentle whisper of the sand and wind? Are you remembering the loving embrace of the infinite source? Are you distracted by the perfectly reasonable, everyday concerns; the peaks and valleys of this finite realm here at the edge of a vast, dry desert?
“Any who are thirsty, let them come and drink.”
Current Master of Divinity Student
Seattle University, School of Theology and Ministry