Right beneath our feet (July 2018)

Every summer, our family tries to spend our vacation at a cottage in Vermont. It’s been in the family for almost 100 years now, and it’s one of the most peaceful places I know. It’s up on a mountain road miles from anywhere. A car goes by once every hour or so. There’s a meadow out front, and woods all around. Not much to do, just sit out on the porch and listen to the wind in the trees.

During the daytime, a hummingbird comes round to sip the nectar at the flowers. The white-throated sparrow calls out, “Here, John Peabody, Peabody, Peabody. . .” Toward evening, you can hear the loons calling in the distance at Foster Pond on the other side of the ridge. At night, you can sit out on the deck and watch the stars. The North Star is always over the barn – it’s comforting to know that it will always be there in the same place.

When I was a boy, we always used to run short of water at the cottage. There was a well house with a hand pump, which had to be “primed” with a pitcher full of water each time you wanted to use it. (That’s the origin of the phrase, “priming the pump,” which economists use to describe the financial help the government gives to the economy to help get things started up again during hard times.)

When I was about 6 years old, we had a new well dug down at the bottom of the field. The workmen got about 10 feet down before they hit a ledge, and had to blast through it with dynamite. I can still remember the roar and the geyser of earth and rocks flying into the air when the dynamite went off. I was so scared that I hid under the bed!

The new well was an improvement, but we still ran out of water every so often, which spoiled several vacations. Finally, about twenty years ago, my mother had a new well dug closer to the house. You know what happened? They drilled straight into a huge underground reservoir – over 100 gallons a minute, the sweetest water in town, more than we could ever use. It was right there beneath our feet, all along.

In John chapter 4, there’s a story of Jesus meeting a woman at a well. Jesus asked for a drink of water, and she held back, because she was from a different religious group. Jesus said, “If you knew who it is that is asking for a drink, you would have asked him for one instead, and he would have given you living water. . .”

Then Jesus told her, “Whoever drinks of the water in this well will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks from the water that I give will never be thirsty. The water that I give will become in them a spring of water overflowing to eternal life. . .”

God is always much closer to us than we realize. There are great reservoirs nearby, right beneath us – reservoirs of strength, reservoirs of hope, reservoirs of healing and grace and life. Most of the time we’re completely clueless that what we need is so close to us. The living springs Jesus talked about are always there – right beneath our feet. Peace like a river. Joy like a fountain. Justice like an ever-flowing stream. The river of life, that flows from the throne of God. The infinite ocean of light and love. So close to us, all the time – and only a prayer away!

– Josh Brown