There is a haunting sense of lack that permeates much of life.

My experience in this earthly realm seems so often to circle around feelings of loss, disconnection, isolation, and scarcity. It feels as if the available resources to get the job done are simply inadequate to the demands at hand. There is never enough time, energy, money, inspiration, or goodwill to fulfill all the requirements that press relentlessly in upon my life.

Much of my behaviour is driven by this aching scarcity.

I seek relationship in the hope that some human connection may alleviate my loneliness. I struggle to find my place in community longing to forge some permanent feeling of worth out of the fleeting experience of belonging. I strive for professional, educational, or artistic success determined to wrestle self-worth from the illusion of accomplishment. I scrabble for material abundance, convinced that security lies just on the other side of some imagined financial threshold.

I follow the strategy of those whom God describes through the prophet Jeremiah saying they

have committed two evils:
   they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
   and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns
   that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

“Cracked cisterns” cannot hold life-giving water.  There is no hope of contentment in a cracked cistern.

I live so often like those Isaiah speaks of asking,

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy? (Isaiah 55:2)

Jesus alluded to the experience of scarcity when he warned,

Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again. (John 4:13)

I spend so much of my life drinking water that leaves me “thirsty again.” I work for food “which is not bread” and “labour for that which does not satisfy.”

But Jesus pointed to another possibility, when he promised that

those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. (John 4:14)

So, how do I gain access to this “spring of water gushing up to eternal life”?

The problem is that I tend to look for this “spring” in my feelings and feelings are among the most unstable and fickle dimensions of human existence. Feelings come and go depending upon the conditions of my life.

If I am going to be nourished by the “spring of water” that gushes “up to eternal life,” I need to develop a faculty of perception that discerns a presence in life at a level more subtle than my feelings. The path to this ability for deeper perceptivity lies along the way of stillness and silence.

The Psalmist showed that he had found refreshing water when he sang praises to God who

makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
   he restores my soul. (Psalm 23:2,3a)

To discern the gentle “spring of water” in my life, I need to let go of my addiction to the intense energy boost by which I have sought to push aside those nagging feelings of lack,  loss, disconnection, isolation, and scarcity that plague my life. I need to start by stopping and sitting still in the face of the unrest, turmoil, pain, and inadequacy that so often drive me to seek escape in the hyper-stimulation that is a tempting distraction from the awkwardness and discomfort of so much of life. To drink “living water” I need to de-stimulate and find the gentle presence dwelling in the quiet and stillness of deep mystery.

The still waters that are truly refreshing may lack some of the excitement of the rushing rapids, but they have the power to quench my thirst in desert places and sustain me on my journey through arid landscapes.