TRUST: Like a tree by the waterside

A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heat comes it feels no alarm…” (Jeremiah 17)

Happy and blessed is the man, the woman and the child who trust in the Lord. Whatever our life situation, however challenging, we who trust in the Lord can endure anything because of Him, because He is with us.

The texts from Jeremiah and the first Psalm bring me back to Tanzania in the dry season when the land was parched dry, everything withered. Even so was my soul. So, I went walking one day, stumbling upon a little valley that had a river cascading over rocks, flowing out onto the plain and there the Scripture came to life. On the banks of the river grew these lovely trees, strong and fresh, in contrast to the aridity that abounded not so far away.

You could stretch out on the rocks, listen to the rhythm of water, be cooled by it, sheltered in the shade. To the river the people would come. Women carrying great bundles on their heads would lay their burdens down, cool their weary feet, chatting happily as they began to wash the clothes they carried there. Children splashing playfully; cows, sheep and goats going down to drink; men from the fields washing away the dust of the day. A soldier might come and lay down his weapon, taking the boots off his regimented feet.

Everyone who came to the river lay something down, took a break from the responsibilities of life and those who came there were blessed in ways that others who did not come would not be blessed. You have to choose to go there, to step away from the hot aridity of everyday demands. Everyone relates to the river in  a different way. Some remain on the banks, other go in, paddling or immersing them a while. Others are like the trees that remain there all the time. But all are touched by the river, soothed by it, refreshed, bathed. In our part of the world we don’t really get the impact of the river because we don’t know the impact of long hot dry days but we can imagine what it might be like.

In the Eucharist we come to the source of Christian life, from it flows the river of God’s grace to which we are invited. And the process is similar to the physical river of Africa. The river of grace is always there. It is for us to choose to come to it in whatever way is possible, to come and lay down our burdens, our weapons, our conflicts, our battles. our agendas and our hurts. To let go of all these while we are in the Presence, allowing grace to minister to us, to touch us in whatever way is necessary. We do not own the river, we do not control it. We receive from it. Some are given to dip their feet on the edges, other to wade in deep for a while, others to remain immersed in it as a permanent way of living. But all are touched by the same river, the same grace, the same God.

The Divine Mercy image is a visible expression of the rivers of grace that flow from Jesus in the Eucharist. The Heart of Jesus pierced open with a spear, the Blood and Water flowing from His Heart – this is the river of God’s grace poured out for us and upon us for our healing and our salvation. Come to the water all you who are thirsty, though you have nothing, come. Come to me, says the Lord.

O living water let me lay down the burdens of my life, the burden of my sin, the conflicts and complexities, the unanswerable questions, unsolvable problems, my battles, my fears, my anxieties.

Wash over me and refresh what is tired, mend what is broken.

Dear Father, make holy our lives by sending down your Spirit upon us like the dewfall, the Spirit descending upon bread and wine to transform them into the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, for our salvation and that of the whole world. Amen