Hi everyone, sorry I haven’t posted as much this week, but I got caught up in the business of moving back to school and trying to get myself settled before classes actually start. As hard as transitions are for me, the feeling that this is the right place for me increases each year and makes it a joy to return to.
It is almost impossible to describe to you what my school means to me. It is small in size and thus has no prestigious value in it, few people have heard of it, and it is easily muddled in the hundreds of universities present in the city of Chicago. Yet in its own way this place stands separate, bursting with life and love unlike anywhere I’ve ever known. The best part is certainly the array of people, who are widely varied but come together to form a warm community. I have made some of the best friends of my life here, and each one is so uniquely wonderful that I constantly wonder how I manage to exist among them. They challenge me in new ways all the time, so that I feel as if we are all constantly growing closer together, intertwining branches to find something beautiful tangled in between.
Here’s one example of that:
One night last year, three friends and I are walking back to our dorm from where we parked the car. We are talking about how crazy it is that you can see God in so many different ways, in different people or places. Three of us gave the more familiar answers – “I see God in nature,” one said. “I see God in our city,” another said. “I see God in people,” I added.
And then there was the last – “I see God in water,” she said. We all kind of paused, surprised at this ripple in our seemingly deep conversation. I thought “Well she was a swimmer in high school, maybe that makes sense?” The other two also had somewhat inquiring looks puzzled onto their faces. The silence of a Chicago spring night, crowded with distant sirens and whirring cars, tickled over my skin with the breeze.
She explained, “Well, you know, I dunno, its just one of those things that is everywhere, like God, and it takes every form, like God. I dunno, it’s hard to explain,” she mumbled off in embarrassment, humbly thinking that she hadn’t just whacked us in the face with some honest wisdom.
By that point we were back at the dorm and the conversation was left behind in the long hallway of repeating doors. My mind had been swung open though, as each door seemed like a new possibility for this great idea – God really is just like water.
For a long time I disliked water and its effects. I hate being damp, and swimming was never something I loved. Water crinkled my papers when spilled, made a mess, and it was overall too unpredictable for my liking.
It wasn’t until I experienced water in its natural habitat that I learned to really appreciate it and listen to its call. Lately I have to come to love the sound of water, especially its different kinds of noise. Water lapping against a sandy shore exhales; as the tide ebbs in and out you can hear the soft breath and heavy sigh of finally reaching the shore. Water in a mountain stream babbles along, chattering as it skips the rocks and runs wild. Ocean waves crashing on the rocks thunder as the elements fight against each other. Evan a stagnant lake, peaceful and still, has the slightest whisper when the wind whistles over it.
Certainly water is the most versatile element on earth. Besides its many sounds, it comes in all forms – it can be a solid, liquid, gas, or somewhere in between. It runs overs and through us, quenching thirst and supplying life. The image of God becomes clearer to me in this sense, like the crystal wrinkles of water allowing you to see all the way to the bottom.
I realized though – a river never runs straight for long, sometimes it even dries up completely. The ocean dips and swells in constant motion, and a still lake is never completely motionless. This became the hiccup in my comparison, because God is supposed to be constant and unchanging. However, hiccups only occur at the surface level, when considered deeper one understands why they happen and where there reasons originate. I needed to go deeper, diving to a depth filled with new questions and new answers.
Water might be constantly changing, but that is because it exists in forward motion. Movement seems to many like change, but in its own way it cycles around through a strange oxymoron of consistency. It’s often hard for me to believe that God never changes when our world changes all the time. Especially right now, college has immersed me in a back and forth zig zag of changing schedules, places, and emotions. Now though, I think that hiccup was because I was only settling for the surface, not challenging myself to understand deeper. Maybe the truth is that our world only changes on the surface, but in reality it is at a stand still of reliving the same battles of good and evil, like pouring weight on both sides of a water wheel, or trying to spin a fan by blowing from opposite sides. Only one force, one powerfully consistent movement can overcome those things. Now I know, that can only be God.
I laugh when I think that all of these crazy thoughts rippled out from a center of one minor conversation with some friends late at night. This is what my school and the people here do to me though; they create in me a person who isn’t afraid to dive deeper for harder questions, and it always leaves me feeling refreshed but still thirsty for more. In the heat of August in Chicago I am no doubt parched right now, because its been a long summer of wandering between waterfalls and droughts. There is a peacefulness I am trying to accept now, one that exists in the rush or lull of constantly moving water. Although there are things I am fearful of for the year, and things around the corner I can’t anticipate, I have to trust that God will take me there, in one form or another.
John 4:13-14 “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Where do you see God?
How do the people around you help open your eyes to that?