By Ricardo Márquez
When everything is working fine, we don’t feel our “needs.” When the desert heat intensifies, we become aware of the need for water, we feel what thirst is.
The theme of “thirst” is a recurring one on the road to human and spiritual growth:
“For You, my body yearns; for You, my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water” (Psalms 63:2).
We share the universal thirst for meaning and transcendence with all human beings who, consciously or unconsciously, seek to satiate it. The distinct religions search and offer paths to quell that universal thirst, each one in their own way and in their own cultural traditions. Thirst for happiness, thirst for meaning, thirst for peace and harmony … The Spirit propels us, keeps us restless, and calls everyone to satiate the thirst for the absolute mystery that marks our existence.
Distances, barriers and the isolation of these times have given us a greater thirst for hugs, for gatherings, a thirst to see and touch one another. These are intense times for thirst.
In the well of our Christian tradition, we find clues to how to quell it.
When Jesus, tired of walking, sits next to a well with a Samaritan woman, He gives us a new significance of water and thirst (John 4:5-26). The material and divine planes combine in this dialogue, the water from the well and the water of life. The Samaritan represents all of us in search for the water of life, for happiness and for relief from suffering.
Jesus identifies with the water of life, the one that quells our thirst if imbibed. Jesus offered her this water, and in doing so broke down the barriers of discrimination, understanding her suffering and treating her with respect and compassion. That is the universal yearning that we all carry within us, to be loved and respected.
It’s significant that at the end of the last book of the Bible, the Apocalypse (Rev 22:17), the theme of thirst emerges once more: “Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.” It’s an invitation to drink freely from Jesus’ message and life.
We spend years looking to quell the thirst in our soul with “material” waters from different wells, with the hope that the more we collect and store, the less thirsty we will be. But the soul remains parched and thirsty because we have not approached to receive the water being offered to us that flows freely … water that is fresh, simple: “Love one another, as I love you” (John 15:12).
Lord, give me Your water to drink!
Ricardo Márquez, PhD, is associate director of the Office for Family Life & Spirituality at the Diocese of San Diego. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.