Until a couple of days ago, our property, like that of countless others, reflected the dry, dry conditions of the last couple of months. The ground was so parched it was actually cracking. The grass was turning brown. Some of our trees....a couple of lovely little gingkos, a couple of small Bradford pears, a couple of struggling azaleas...beyond hope. Thirsty, thirsty. That said, here in Alabama our situation pales in comparison to the even worse drought-stricken areas of the country. Our sisters and brothers in Texas reel in the real fear of fire and devastation in their tinderbox conditions.
And, now arrives our weekend guest, T.S./T.D. Lee. Lee's heavy intermittent rains are already making a visible difference in the green-ness of our property. The ground is drinking up the water. The foliage looks...well...happier. Even the weeds now seem healthier. A mixed blessing. Granted, others on Lee's itinerary have had to cope with damaging winds and floods. And, on the morrow, we too may find a tree down across our driveway or on the road into town. So far still with power...but may lose it before morning. But for now, the rain against the windows and wind blowing across the chimney is comforting...and life-giving.
I am reminded of an experience years ago when I was on-call as pediatrician in an Emergency Room in Lower Alabama. A little two year old girl, severely dehydrated, lay motionless on the gurney in the pediatrics treatment room. I hurried in to offer what I could to the child medically. She was limp, pale, and sunken-eyed. Huddled around her were several of the hospital's most experienced nurses, trying with great difficulty to start an IV in the child's also-sunken veins. (Dehydration, paradoxically and unfortunately, also makes starting an intravenous line extremely challenging...). As I drew closer, I thought I heard the child making a noise. Carefully I listened. At first I was puzzled. What was she moaning? Wah. Wah. Gradually it dawned upon me. In her toddler language, the little one was letting us all know exactly what she needed. Water. Water. Life-giving water. Blessedly, saline fluid ("water") soon began flowing into her little collapsed veins. Two days later, she was home. TBTG.
And yet....water can be dangerous and life-threatening, as tonight's news reminds us. Flooding and fears accompany storms such as Lee. Hearts are being broken, homes destroyed by the same water that has greened up our yard and restored life to dying plants. Water that Texans are praying for can also be water of someone's worst nightmare.
So....how to reconcile all this? Like a good Anglican, I won't try, seeking instead to live with the tension. And yet, I will never forget the plaintive cry of that nearly-dying child....wah, wah. She knew exactly what she needed to live. And I know that for me as Christian, my thirst, my emptiness, is only full-filled by the Living Water of Christ. Water in which I was "drowned" by baptism and then raised to new life as God's child. The waters of baptism are not "tame" .... just like the water brought by Lee to our yard tonight is not "tame." But, by God's grace, those waters bring new life and new hope. May we too, like that toddler in the ER, seek always the water, water through which all of us are born anew.