By Robert Halsey Pine
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ ‘Now he said this about the spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.’” (John 7:37-52 NRSV).
“Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink. Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner an albatross appeared to the ship that was lost and in trouble. It was an omen that they would sail out of this chaos and back to homeport. The Ancient Mariner couldn’t resist and took his bow and killed the Albatross that flew over them as they exited the fog and ice. This angelic bird was dead and the fate of the ship worsened.
The ship sailed into an area where there was no wind and blazing heat. It may have been an area near the equator referred to as the Doldrums by navigators. Can you imagine dying of thirst in the middle of the ocean? It was so dry that the boards of the ship above the water line were shrinking. The killing of the “pious bird of good omen” was the undoing of this vessel and its crew and all because the mariner couldn’t resist the chance to kill as their fate was improving.
How thirsty are we? What temptations have we succumbed to that have brought us to this dry thirst? Our thirst will be satisfied and quenched if we seek the refreshing spring of the Holy Spirit, a spring that becomes rivers. Like the mariner we have once killed the messenger. The cross and the Albatross represent our sinfulness. Knowing our sinful nature, God let Christ’s death atone for our sins. Like the mariner who lived to relate his story to a guest at a wedding, we have a second chance.
We are thirsty and He is our source. His springs and rivers are the Holy Spirit. If we believe, we will drink. If we do not believe we will dehydrate and become a withered shell. The lesson learned by the mariner and our lesson also is: “He prayeth best, who loveth best. All things both great and small; For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.”
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.