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†† OUR FAITH

Father Paul Hesse is pastor of St. Pius X Parish.

What streams do we drink from? By Father Paul Hesse

T Contributor

here is something about babbling brooks and running streams that does a soul good. One of the most memorable camping trips that I have ever had was beside such a stream. It was located in a remote part of the Angelina National Forest in East Texas. We had been hiking for a good portion of the day through the thick of the forest, tromping through a lightly trodden trail that had become overrun with brush and vegetation. It appeared that no conservation crews had maintained the trail in a long time, nor had anyone traversed that way for about as long. It was a wonderful feeling of adventure trekking through an area that was far removed from the beaten paths that others had taken. Having worked our way through some of the thicket, a fellow backpacker and I followed trail blazes until we came upon a fabulous little stream running through the lush forest of trees. We found an open and flat area alongside the stream and decided it was the perfect place to set up camp. Not only was it refreshing, it was just the source of water that we needed to cook, clean, and replenish our water supply for the rest of our weekend excursion. It turned out to be a very peaceful place; a place that had a kind of mystique and unparalleled beauty. The next morning, after wiping the sleep from my eyes, I peered out of my little tent and saw a layer of fog hovering over the stream, which disseminated into the trees. The soothing sound of the water trickling around roots and rocks was intermittently punctuated by the sounds of doves cooing and birds chirping. I’m not able to fully describe the peacefulness of that place and the effect that it had on my spirit. The presence of water changes everything in a positive way, just as the absence of water has a contrasting effect.

Because human beings can’t survive without water and because we crave it, water long ago became a symbol of life, of fruitfulness, and of plenty. We see this imagery all throughout scripture. “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God” (Psalm 42:2). This simple verse, which is one of my favorites, captures so effectively the thirst of the soul for God. Likewise, Jeremiah 17, contrasts the person who trusts in human beings as being like a barren bush in the desert in comparison to the one who trusts in the Lord, who is like a tree planted beside the waters that receives life and vigor from the water. It seems to me that one of the things that we face today is that so many of us are living in a kind of drought. Because we are so focused on the creature comforts and sensual pleasures of this earthly existence, our souls have become like wastelands. It is no wonder people have difficulty staying in lasting relationships, or struggle with depression or emotional and spiritual aridity. Our hearts are all shriveled up because we are drunk on earthly pleasures that have no spiritual nutrition or nurturing qualities. It is like trying to survive on energy drinks rather than on good, healthy, clean water. If we are dehydrated by a lack of supernatural grace, we have no way of sharing a drink with others. To be sure, there are many whose depression and inner turmoil come from factors that are clinical in nature, but by and large, we live in a world where the soul is a barren desert. We drink from the wrong streams. Everywhere we turn, we see the sad effects of this condition. Could the perpetrators of school shootings or many of the other horrific acts of violence be a product of a society where we have forgotten the most fundamental needs of the human heart? We cannot survive without the life-giving springs that flow from faith and a February 2019 |  South Texas Catholic  31

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February 2019 - Vol. 54 No. 2  

In our February issue we focus on the month of the Holy Family. We feature the unveiling of two paintings in the chapel at CHRISTUS Spohn Dr...

February 2019 - Vol. 54 No. 2  

In our February issue we focus on the month of the Holy Family. We feature the unveiling of two paintings in the chapel at CHRISTUS Spohn Dr...

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