Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Humble Fountains

In the courtyard of the seminary, there is a fountain.

It's a simple and gracious thing, with a tall concrete bell-spire and three plashy-splashy jets that evoke the Trinity as they continually blort water heavenward from the surface of a rectangular pool of water.

 Over the many years I've spent at seminary, I've had many opportunities to sit nearby, and meditate on the movement and the noise of living water.

While circumnavigating it yesterday during a moment or two of centering, I noticed that there were not three fountains.  There were five.

Off to the sides of the spire and out of the primary focus of the fountain edifice, two humble PVC jets spewed water into the pool in opposite directions.  I'd seen them before, but I hadn't really given them a thought.

Their flow was not to make a show or a splash.  Instead, they created a circulating flow within the pool, keeping the water moving and clear.  Were it just the three primary fountains, most of the pool would soon become stagnant and stanky, as algae would form everywhere except around the fountains.

What makes the pool living water, water that is in motion and "alive," is the water that pours forth from the PVC protrusions.  They are as visually unassuming as a garden hose, and yet they are the true and hidden life of that place of contemplation.

There are lives like that, relationships we have with others that are like those humble fountains.  They are indispensable to our churches, and to our being together in grace.    We may not see them.  They do not leap and froth continually heavenwards.  They may not care whether they're seen.  And yet without them, things get unclear and stinky.