How High's the Water, Mama?
Those words from a Johnny Cash song are being repeated over and over all along the Mississippi River and its tributaries these days. Many areas have been evacuated, others are just feet from having their entire towns under water. Six feet high and rising goes the song and all we can do is move to higher ground, if possible. Where we live in Jackson, there is no danger, but we have friends and family, including Liz's parents who live just across The River from Natchez, who are watching and praying.
We have finally had a few sunny, dry days and work could begin and move forward on my house. A nice young teacher from the school where Liz teaches came two days over the weekend to trim shrubs and cut out volunteer trees in the beds. Today the man to do minor repairs on the house began his work and none too soon. When the storm windows were removed he discovered I had three rotten window ledges. Hopefully, tomorrow all the trim can be painted, the ledges replaced and painted and the window put back on. Other than having to paint the living room ceiling, nothing else will be that time consuming.
This weekend we are having a moving sale, then all my attention can be focused on packing. The first weekend in June will be here before we know it! We are still praying that Liz will get a job in the school district where we'll be living.
Several years ago a friend showed us pictures of a clear stream and told us it was the origin of the Mississippi River. I was amazed to see transparent water, calm and soothing as it bubbled out of the ground and began its journey southward. I thought of how it changed along the way. It grew wider, more forceful and muddier and muddier. Spring rains brought flooding in low lying areas, but the effects of the flooding made rich soil even richer. Some years farmers would be late planting, cutting the growing season short. Other years those same farmers might have bumper crops. People in the delta regions had an almost Epicurious attitude: "Eat, drink and be merry, because there might not be a crop next year."
In California, our friends John and Peggy, invited us to visit them at their cabin at McCloud. One afternoon we were driving around, visiting the sights and while in Mt. Shasta we stopped at a park to let the dog play and stretch her legs. (I don't know who had a better time playing in the park, Tom or the dog.) Peg and I walked over to a bubling spring, much like the picture I had seen of the origin of the Mississippi. This spring was the origin of the Sacramento River. Again, I was amazed to see something so clear and pure, all the while remembering what the Sacramento looked like as it made its way toward the sea. I told Peg that one day I would use what I had seen and the process of the river growing and changing as a sermon illustration. I have yet to do that.
The Bible is full of water stories: God holding back the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross on dry land; Jonah being thrown overboard and being protected in the belly of the whale; and how could we leave out Noah, his adventure on the Ark and the promise God made to never destroy the earth by water again? Water is essential for life--but not just any water. It has to be pure, safe for us to drink. Contaminated water brings sickness and death to many. Water is life giving, but can be one of the most dangerous forces in nature. One day I will preach that sermon using the origins and journeys the rivers take. In the meantime, I will ponder how life and the events of life mimic the characteristics of the waters of the world. Mostly, I'll be ever so mindful of the One who brings us streams of Living Waters.