What are the wellsprings in your life?
It was very early in my relationship with my wife Diana that we drove up to Bass Rocks near Gloucester, Massachusetts. We loved to sit there and watch the surf pounding on the rocks below. We would take our bibles, read together and pray. At that stage we thought we weren’t dating, just hanging out as friends. I had a gallon jug of fresh squeezed apple cider and we shared, drinking straight out of the jug. I still remember the expression on her face when I first passed her the jug. My informality was obviously a challenge.
Years ago my wife Diana and I were engaged but separated by distance for several months. Diana was in Massachusetts and I in New Brunswick, Canada. We would look into the western night sky and see Venus floating over the Moon. In a way it was our “star”, a wellspring of comfort that came from knowing that we were looking at the very same thing on the very same night.
When we were first married we lived in a third floor walk-up furnished apartment in Toronto. The whole apartment and all the furniture were in shades of brown. We referred to it as excrement brown, only we weren’t that polite about it. The only cheerful place was the bathroom with its white porcelain tub and toilet, and its horrible pink tile and turquoise trim. We would sit for hours on the edge of the tub and talking. St. Paul says, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.”[i] We spent a lot of sleepless nights, just talking and getting adjusted to each other. Talking with one another has been a wellspring of joy over the years.
Some years later we sat at the little table by the picture window in our cottage on Great Neck near Ipswich, Massachusetts. It was a wonderful picture window. Looking out in one direction we could see the varied shades of green marsh grasses and brown mud and the clammers digging for clams. Looking in the other direction we could see Plum Island and the blue green ocean beyond. There is a wonder in the shared beauty of God’s creation; and always, talking, talking and just being together.
Our friends Oon Chor and Peck Lim Khoo had just returned from the Philippines and lived with us in Watertown, Massachusetts for several months. Tim had just been born and I remember Oon Chor changing him on the changing table. Tim was babbling on as babies babble, and all of a sudden Oon Chor exclaimed, “He just said the Chinese word for “pork”. So we had a Chinese pork dish for supper that evening. Living together for those months gave us a wellspring of love that has lasted over the years and even to this day we each keep the other in our prayers and affection.
We were in England with the children; Tim was six and Julie three. Near Winchester we stayed in a bed and breakfast at the home of Robin Anstey. We had a classic English fry, eggs, sausage, fried tomatoes, and toast. I looked out on their back porch and saw several bags of garden soil. Each bag had been slit open and a tomato plant planted directly in the bag. We went on to Wells Cathedral. The children thought it was just a big play area, but when we came to Salisbury Cathedral they immediately went to a side altar, knelt and prayed. There is a wellspring of joy in holy places and in shared experience.
We sat on the patio by the pool yesterday morning with our Prayer Books and bibles and prayed the Morning Office together. It was Wednesday and in the evening we were starting a new study at Trinity in Dallas on the little book of Ruth. Did you know that the name “Ruth” means friend. Her friendship with Naomi was marked by commitment to each other, and by commitment to the LORD. “Where you go, I will go, and your God will be my God.”
We live by necessity in the habitation of dragons; that’s just the nature of our world. The Psalmist says, “[ii]Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Weeping they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.” We travel together hand in hand as pilgrims in a foreign land, with our eyes set on the goal of our heavenly home. All along the way we have found wellsprings of joy and comfort. Those wellsprings are marked by shared experience of trials and joys alike, by many hours of conversation, by the beauty of God’s creation, by our family and friends, by times of laughter, and often just by the quiet business of just being together.