The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. ~ John 4:14
Daily life on the Colorado Trail revolved around water. Before Ro and I went to bed at night and when we woke up in the morning, we constantly checked our Colorado Trail Databook to see where water sources would be for the upcoming day’s hike.
Sometimes there was a constant supply of fresh water flowing from streams and creeks. And sometimes we walked as far as fifteen or eighteen miles between reliable water sources. Depending on the availability of water we carried as little as 32 ounces and as much as 82 ounces. Our health and well-being depended on water.
We could walk for miles through trees or across tundra and never see another hiker, but when came upon a stream or a creek, miraculously people were there refilling water bottles, eating, and sharing information about the trail, the weather, and future watering holes. Hikers gathered around water; we all needed it to survive.
I have never tasted water so fresh and cold as I did on the trail, yet Ro and I still treated all the water we drank with Aqua Mira (seven drops of solution in a cap, wait five minutes, and then pour the solution into the newly refilled bottled water and wait another fifteen minutes). I dearly miss seeing and drinking water from the free-flowing streams and the pristine alpine lakes. Each one was a welcome reminder of abundant life. Father Richard Rohr writes, “No wonder the Spirit is described as ‘flowing water’ and as ‘a spring inside you’” (John 4:10-14).
Water is life.
On day thirty, 395 miles into our journey, I walked upon Ro who was on his knees drinking directly from a small stream tumbling down a meadow. “What are you doing Ro? Aren’t you going to treat the water before you drink it?”
“Dad, this water is sacred,” Ro said as he wiped the water drops from his mouth.
“Yeah, I agree, but why is this water so sacred to you?” “Don’t you know where we are? Didn’t you read the guidebook?” asked Ro.
“I must have missed it. What’s special about this water?”
“This is the headwaters of the Rio Grande.” I looked at the gently flowing stream that I could walk across in two short steps. “You’re right Ro. This is very sacred water.” I took a picture of Ro drinking from the source of the Rio Grande, and then I got down on my hands and knees and drank from the mighty river. It tasted good, very good.
I wondered, “How does this graceful stream flowing so purely down a beautiful green meadow with alpine flowers later become a source of contention and division among people and nations?”
When we drink from the “river of life” (Revelation 22:1-2), Grace reminds us that water unites us; it does not separate us. Rohr writes, “We all breathe the same air and drink the same water. There are no Jewish, Christian, or Muslim versions of these universal elements. All water is holy water even before the benefit of a priest’s (minister’s) waved hand over it. It is always and everywhere two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.”
On the trail, everyone gathers around the water sources. It is a miracle. At the North Fork of Swan River, beneath a major pass that everyone had to climb outside of Breckenridge, there were eight to ten people. A Hebrew scholar from Israel was saying his morning prayers. A woman was eating a breakfast of oatmeal. An uncle was helping his nephew treat his wounded feet. A couple of people were taking cat naps. We shared food and everyone was drinking and refilling water bottles from the same stream. Such is the nature of God’s unconditional love.
Water replenishes, restores, renews, and reconciles us. It is holy and sacred. We all need water to survive. It does not recognize the boundaries we impose on it. Thanks be to God.
Rohr says, “This earth indeed is the very Body of God, and it is from this body that we are born, live, suffer, and resurrect to eternal life.” Today is holy and sacred. We will baptize Vesper Pine into this body. May the Spirit continue to flow through her and us as we let the holy water shape and form us, so we may be one. Amen.
Blessings and peace,