On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.” ’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39, NRSV).
It is quite ironic that we have so many scriptural images of water during Lent. Lent is the season during which we journey into the desert with Jesus. It was in the desert that Jesus was both hungry and thirsty. At this stage of the journey of Lent, I think all of us are really thirsting for Easter Day. Such is actually the point of celebrating Lent.
Today, Jesus tells us that He is the One to Whom we can go when we are thirsty. “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.” Jesus is the fountain of endless possibilities for our thirsty souls. However, Jesus is very clear here that coming to Him for a drink must not be the end of the exchange. Jesus quotes the words, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”
The great blessing of Contemplative and/or Centering Prayer is that we are given the chance to come to Jesus and drink from His life-giving water. The only danger that can happen as a result of the wonderful experiences through Contemplative and/or Centering Prayer, is that if the “river” stops there, then it was nothing more than an emotional spiritual roller coaster ride that ended when the ride stopped. Even if the experience leaves our head spinning and our bodies out of focus. The drink we receive from Jesus in the desert becomes nothing more than a stagnant pool, unless that water flows out of our hearts in to the market place of our communities. This includes our families, work places, relationships and activities.
May we in our Lenten experience drink from Jesus who is the well of life, and with the help of God’s grace let that well flow from our hearts into a world that is much too thirsty for its own good.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB