Walking is about the only form of exercise that I really enjoy doing, and my new favorite walk since I started here at St. John’s is from the church to the log cabin at Phoenix Lake. It’s been especially gratifying to do this after the recent rains, because the waterfall from the spillway of the dam is gushing to the point of sending up a cloud of mist. In a watershed, a single rain event can create many days of healthy flow after the fact. After a drought, there is no more hopeful sign.
The same could be said of Christmas. The good feelings that we both acquire and give out on Christmas Day can, hopefully, continue for many days afterwards. Christmas, after all, is a season which continues for twelve days, culminating on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany.
The readings for the Second Sunday of Christmas have several references to water. Jeremiah quotes God as saying “I will let them [my people] walk by brooks of water.” And also, “their life shall become a watered garden.” The psalm appointed for the day, Psalm 84, states that “Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs, for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.”
The Gospels appointed for this week (there are three choices) don’t mention anything about water, but two of the stories, in their own way, contain measures of hope in an otherwise desolate setting. Both are connected to the Magi and their interactions with Herod. If Herod represents the cynical and ruthless side of human nature, he is offset by the idealistic, probing, and generous side represented by the Magi. Their gifts are an expression of hope for the future of humankind embodied by Jesus Christ. This hope becomes manifest further throughout the Epiphany season, starting with Jesus’ baptism and ending with his transfiguration.
Let us hope and pray that our daily landscape becomes transfigured by flowing streams, both in our surroundings and in our spirits.