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Nothing Lasts

"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him like a spring of water welling up to eternal life." – Jesus, to a Samaritan woman (John 4:13-14)

I had a conversation, sitting in a chapel with a friend, about the way nothing ever lasts. No matter how beautifully blue and amber stained glass windows are on sunny afternoons, night falls. Snow comes so pure; it leaves in muddy leftovers. Only fake flowers bloom forever. Feeling forgotten is not always solved by remembering past hugs.

What matters even more is that best friends and fathers and mothers don’t stay with us forever. Memories leave us so alone, they can never replace the sounds of those voices and the light in those eyes; memories can never give us back the precious minutes we needed in order to say those last crucial words that now ache in us, unanswered. This world, our world, moves constantly toward death, sometimes in small disappointments and sometimes in searing losses that leave us fragile cynics.

When I recognize this pattern, I grow intensely aware of my desperate need for God. Because death, now as inescapable to me as gravity, was never the way it was meant to be. Life was supposed to intensify with each day passing, to give birth to more life over and again. Joy was never meant to end in bitterness. Breathing was supposed to burst from our lungs into song. Sobs are the sound of the world tearing, the sound of God’s heart tearing.

That’s why God came, why Jesus of Nazareth laughed with us and touched our faces, and bled and thirsted in our darkness on this earth. That is why it matters that when those twelve disciples lost their dear, dear friend, He became not a ripple in the flow of our world at its worst, that, instead, He was the first drop of water to flow upstream.

Because in that flowing, in that turning of the way things are, He gave us a promise: that some day the tide will turn once and for all, that His one resistant ripple will become a flood, a shimmering tidal wave of life that drowns out all the death and anguish we have ever known. Water, sparkling, so alive it will awaken to fertility the most choking deserts of our world.

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This is the promise He has made. His tide has turned, and it will go on turning. And He will send this water to us now, to let us be the rippling beginnings, heralds of a world no longer dead.

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