“Make sure you don’t get dehydrated, Joanne. If you get dehydrated, it can really mess you up.”
Thus spake Bruce, one of my friends at water aerobics. Bruce knows what he’s talking about: he’s 80 years old, been doing water aerobics twice a day, five days a week, for seven years. He’s lost a whole bunch of weight, increased his health, and shocked his doctors. He is also very wise (when giving me permission to quote him for this column, he also said that I should report that he’s not seeing any particular woman right now.)
Do you see why I love him?
Anyway, his comment about dehydration took me by surprise. It never occurred to me I could get dehydrated when I was up to my neck in water. But he’s right, of course. And so I try to remember to bring a water bottle, and when I forget (which is most of the time,) I make sure to drink a lot before we start and after we’re finished.
But the surprise of his comment about dehydration made me think about water, our need for it, and what happens when we don’t get it. Because the Bible talks about water a lot. It’s not a surprise, since they lived in the arid desert and access to water was access to life.
Jesus chose water as a powerful image representing his relationship with us. In John 4, Jesus had a clever tete-a-tete with a woman who came to draw water from the well. In that conversation, we hear that Jesus has come to be in relationship with a much wider group of people than the religiously proper men of the day.
It was in water that Jesus was baptized by John and water has become the symbol in one of our most sacred acts, the act of baptism. Sprinkled, poured, immersed – it symbolizes dying with Christ and our rising with him.
Water, our basic source of sustenance, is a totally appropriate symbol related to our need for God. We need water well before we need food when we don’t have access to either. And not only are we totally dependent on water, but everything we eat is dependent on water for its life before it gives us life.
We can imagine that we are well connected in our relationship with God because church/Christian friends are all around us, but unless we drink from the well of Living Water, and nurture our faith, we are not nourished or sustained.
I don’t think that it was by accident that God used the most basic and necessary of elements to teach us. We need the Living Water to nourish our roots, which we think are deep and strong, but without water? Dead.
We need the Living Water to hydrate every cell of our beings, that we might not struggle to live, but thrive. We need the Living Water because without it, as Bruce reminded me, we can get really messed up.