This feature is coordinated by The Post-Standard/Syracuse.com and InterFaith Works of CNY. Follow this theme and author posted Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday.
I love the water. One of the things I missed most during this last pandemic year was my annual pilgrimage to Cape Cod. The water restores and refreshes my spirit, with its reminder to me of the final verses of the Christian Bible (Revelation 22:17), “Let those who are thirsty come; let those who wish take the free gift of the water of life.”
The ocean challenges me to echo the heart-cry of the Hebrew prophet Amos, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” And at the water’s edge, I am reminded of Leonardo DaVinci’s words that, “Water is the driving force in nature.” We know that force can be life-giving or destructive; water can cleanse or it can kill.
Surely, there are things in our lives and in our bitterly divided community that should be swept away – systemic racism, institutionalized poverty, and the zero-sum fear of change. Just as surely, there are things that can be bathed in the healing, restorative waters of hope – welcoming the stranger, establishing cooperative partnerships, and reforming our justice system.
In many religious traditions, that is the powerful symbolism of baptism rituals – being submerged in water to wash away that which harms and destroys our relationships with God and with one another, and then being raised out of the water refreshed, renewed and restored. And, in the wise words of Wallace Stevens, “Human nature is like water – it takes the shape of its container.”
While we cannot control the shape of water, we can control the shape of the container we put it in. We can reshape the containers of our lives so that what pours out of us is hope and compassion, justice and righteousness, grace and love. And, we can fill one another’s lives with these same precious gifts.
The Rev. Suzi Harriff, an American Baptist Pastor and Music Minister, serves churches in Syracuse, Otter Lake and Rwanda, and teaches at Bethel Bible Institute and Northeastern Seminary.
Read more:: CNY Inspirations: Water of life