empty wells and mean faith

today has been a day of going to empty wells.

social media is a big one for me.  i keep looking to it, waiting for the two sentence update that fills me up and you know what?  it never comes.  not the first time i look for it or the 38th time i look.  and after a while it starts making me angry.

at first i’m angry at the internet.  then i’m angry at myself for looking to the internet. then i’m discontent and not much help to anyone.

then i look to yoga.  which i’m not terribly good at.  or i look to dieting.  or going out and getting a drink.  or shopping.  or cleaning.  or eating.  or baking.  or smoking.  or diet cola. or getting nostalgic.  or getting paranoid.

it’s a small, pathetic list, but it’s mine.  none of them wrong with a capital W, but none of them a water source.

so what it is then?

why won’t i go to the source of water?  when my soul is desert thirsty, what is keeping me from the full well that i know full well is available?

now that’s a good question.

i think it’s a hearing problem.

i’m pretty sure that i’m deaf in one ear and can’t hear out of the other.  because i’ve heard the words told to me and i’ve said them myself and yet…

there i go to another cistern that can hold no water.

this is the part where i say that after following jesus for a long, long time the words become old and i can’t hear them anymore.  i’ve heard it so often that it becomes meaningless.

and that is true.

but not because the words are old.  or cliché.  or boring.

words become common place like a picture hung on the wall that we walk past everyday until we don’t see it.  or like a christmas song in november that comes on the radio and it’s familiarity breeds an unholy contempt for rocking around the christmas tree. however – neither one of those things, the painting, the song – neither one has changed.

it’s me.  it’s me who’s changed.

i feel like i’m standing at a precipice.  there are cliffs in faith.  and they involve stepping off the edge and as i fall i will reach for the words and –

yes!

there it is!

i can hear again.  i can see the painting and i can appreciate the song.  but if i stand at the edge deciding and deliberating, reading and re-reading then –

no.

no, i think i must have misheard something way back when.  and i will turn around and i will head back to what is familiar, i will head back to egypt into the slavery i know.  i might still fill a pew.  i might even lead your bible study, but i can’t hear the song, i can’t see the painting.

so what does it all mean?

empty wells and the falling off of cliffs of faith.  what exactly are you saying zena?  i guess all i’m trying to say is that if i’m not responding to my own soul’s cry out to god and i’m choosing some other way, it’s not for any other reason except i’ve stopped living the words.  i’ve stopped living faith and i’ve taken to reading it or watching it like series television show.

and so my faith gets small, it gets mean.  like a steak that you chew and chew until you don’t want to swallow it anymore.  a faith that thinks of kindness and never shows it.  a faith that does things for show and never in secret.

the words lose their power when i stop living them and it’s only through risks, small or large – it’s only in the crossing over through the storm – in the getting uncomfortable again that the words start to sing and the painting makes me stop in my tracks, aware of the color and of the light and of the sound.

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