When I travel to Mexico after a long absence, I’m always surprised and happy to see street vendors again.
There are the ones who set up their carts on the plaza at night, selling ice cream or fruit with salt and spices. My favorites are those who make marquesitas, sweet, crispy crepes filled with a goat’s milk caramel.
Then there are the water vendors. Usually they are guys with bicycle-powered carts who come by in the early mornings just as people are waking and cooking breakfast, before the car traffic is too heavy.
Agua! they shout as they pedal slowly enough down the street so people have time to hear them and wave them down. Water!
And everyone whose supply of safe drinking water is drawing low comes out on the street. They buy the heavy 5 gallon bottles and haul them into their homes, their thirst satisfied for a few days.
In the readings for this Sunday, there are two that refer to water:
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! [Isaiah 55]
God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. [Psalm 63]
Why water? Because water, of course, quenches thirst, and in Lent it is helpful to be reminded that not all our thirsts are physical.
The longings we have for depth of meaning, for companionship, for truth, for relief from things that burden us, for help when we feel helpless—all these longings find a home in us at some point or other. During the season of Lent we’re encouraged to pay attention to them. To allow them to come to the surface. To let our inner needs see the daylight of our own contemplation. To recognize how they influence us, help us, harm us. To remember they are a part of who we are.
Then, once we’ve really looked at those longings and needs, we remember that God also sees them. And we are invited to come out of our hidden selves and find water that soothes our souls, that quenches our needs, that makes us want to sit down under a shade tree and take a rest in God’s presence.
© Melissa Bane Sevier, 2013