I've been dealing with water alot lately. It's not because I live in Seattle either. We don't really get all that much here. Ask my lawn if you don't believe me. It's only been this past week that I've even been encouraged to consider mowing my lawn. It's only now going through it's annual resurrection. Being from the Northeast, I'm used to a lawn that is now just dying in the last days before winter. Here, mine is just coming back to life in the last days before winter. I used to care that it turned brown and died. I thought it was a status thing to have green lawn. That changed immediately after getting our first water bill from the city. Status is overrated. And so my lawn goes through it's annual process of death and resurrection. I just tell myself that it's my own personal Christian metaphor. In the past few weeks I was in Louisville and Cincinnati, two places highly influenced by water. The Ohio river flows majestically through both of those cities. In various places where history was displayed there I saw reminders of those times when the river was a painful reminder that no matter how advanced we think we are sitting on the banks, it can still control our efforts.
When I was growing up, water was not anything more than an afterthought to me, a toll to be used when I felt like it. I loved it in the Summer for swimming. I loved it in the Winter when it froze over so I could skate. Spring and Fall though were different. Water in those times usually meant rain and that usually meant me indoors. That was before playstation, and Bill Gates to occupy my time. It's hard to imagine. I was never much a fan of drinking water, unless it was mixed with koolaid. Now, my wife buys every type of fancy flavored water imaginable. I'm not fooled though. I'd still rather have the koolaid. I have a doctors appointment today, they told me nothing but water for 8 hours before the appointment. I guess that's so the actual appointment doesn't seem bad by comparison.
Water has been front and center in some very significant parts of my life. When I was barely old enough to be annoyed by it, my parents and a priest marked my life in the Catholic church by pouring it over my head. When I was in high school, a friend helped mark the start of my Christian development by plunging me underneath it. As a parent, it's been through the water that I've been priviledged to mark both of my kids decisions to follow Christ. Too many times to count I've been able to witness the renewal that water brings as people come up out of it in baptism.
I used to take water for granted. It's easy to do when most of the planet is covered by it and when I live on a penninsula nearly surrounded by it. But, it's a great metaphor. I don't easily discount metaphors, especially when they are somehow linked to faith experiences. Personally I think that water is the most significant metaphor that God uses. It's symbolic of the life and death and renewal process that faith demands. Maybe it's so strong to me because I am so regularly involved in it. Just the other day I was privileged to baptize a family. Four times someone went under, dead to their old life. Four times someone came up out of the water, reborn and walking out. It never gets old. It never gets routine. Water seems very powerful at those times as you see people coming up out of it with an expression that no other experience can generate. Even Jesus did it as a preview to his actual death, burial, and resurrection. Water really is life giving. It really is renewing. Just ask my lawn.