Those things that have grown weary
and no longer serve their purpose,
are to be cast aside;
their place will be taken
by the eager and determined.
The caterers’ miscalculations
threaten to bring the nuptial celebrations
to a premature conclusion.
Water’s cold austerity
gives way to wine by the bucketful;
joy flows abundant and free,
and the party continues.
The attendant throng is suitably amazed;
the man’s mother, who provoked the action,
is merely impressed.
In the hands of her son
the wedding feast is made into
the metaphor par excellence: life that is fruitful and expectant,
filled with hope, joy,
and laden with possibility.
stepping from wave to wave
and the laws of gravity,
at least according to the story.
This, of course, is a sticking point
for many in our sceptical scientific age,
“Come,” says the journeying man.
“Come to me,
come with me.
Together we shall travel
to the shadowed places;
where despair is deep, fears imprison,
and worries and concerns threaten to overwhelm.
We shall whisper hope,
touch with love and life,
and bring to birth the peace
for which our weeping planet yearns.
And should the waves rise to engulf us,
and should the primeval chaos
reassert itself to swallow us up,
then we shall sink together;
and finding fulfilment.”
At Sychar the ancient well,
said to have been dug by Jacob himself,
continues its unfailing work;
storing the generosity
of the even older spring
in its cool, dark pool.
Deep below the sun-bleached rocks,
it holds enough water
to deliver its aqueous life
to inhabitants of the Samaritan village,
and to all who come looking;
provided they have a bucket
and sufficient length of rope.
Lacking such basics,
the travelling man from the north,
thirsty from his journey,
makes his famous request
of a woman who came to fill her empty jar.
A spirited conversation bubbles up.
From earnest banter it spills out
into life’s exponential invitation;
to fashion a bucket,
to twist a rope, and
to delve deeply within.
Below the sun’s relentless rays
the red earth bakes hard,
loosens with the passing feet and hooves
of creatures, wild and domesticated;
becoming dust again. Human feet,
some clothed in boot and shoe for protection
from hot earth and its sharp and stony projections,
others toughened by their habitual nakedness,
add to the wear of the animals.
The soil holds life,
waiting patiently for water
from largely cloudless skies.
With rock and tree and hill it holds stories,
a spirit library waiting for the singing;
waiting for the voices.
The water, too, holds life.
Borne upon wind, sometimes gathering
in clouded configurations,
anticipating the moment
when the swirling eddies of pressured and rushing air
achieve the necessary imbalance
for the soil’s saturation.
Undreneath the dry sand of occasional river beds,
the ever-present but unseen waters
receive and welcome the probing roots of trees;
which gather moisture, mix it with sunlight,
and fashion it into life for leaf, insect, bird and lizard.
In the scorching sun the leaves release their own
fragrant life offering;
the sharp and cleansing eucalyptian scent
that tells of hope and renewal.
Majestic birds, darkened silhouettes
ascend and wheel. They ride heated currents,
created by the fiery sun
as it works upon rugged valleys and hills.
These were, in turn, wrought slowly
from layers of ancient rock by that same sun,
together with persistent wind
and occasional rain.
earth-bound, like the large birds that traverse
these sun-drenched plains,
observe the distant aerial manoeuvres with wonder,
and dream. A few,
kissed by this vision of freedom,
determine also to rise and to soar.
The oxide-red earth;
the unseen wind, sometimes gentle, sometimes wild;
fire from above and within;
water, cool and clear;
the human heart, dreaming and hopeful;
here creation and spirit meet
a necessary and joyous union,
for the fashioning of life and love.
Gospel writer John springs a miracle
to get things going. It’s a strange one,
a classic conundrum: water into wine.
Fortunately the miracle was never replicated
by Jesus, or any of his followers since.
In every age there have been those
who reached out to grasp
the dubious gift of drunken oblivion,
but they all managed to do so
by more conventional means.
Let’s quietly pack the miracle away,
let it age and gather dust in the cellar;
it proves nothing, never did.
The coming together of two people,
pledging their love and devotion
and becoming one flesh,
is made the occasion for this story
of joyous and abundant celebration.
Jesus, Word made flesh,
is both purpose and provider
for the party.
Buckets of water into buckets of wine;
dance until you drop!
there are no limits to joy.
Human existence has been unexpectedly infused
with something far more wondrous
than any mere miracle.
Jesus from the divine parent’s heart;
bearer of grace and truth,
and shining his light into the darkness,
lives among us.
Pour some wine: we have to celebrate!
His words pelted indiscriminately
like a summer storm;
you couldn’t avoid getting soaked in his message.
John the crazy water-man
didn’t polish his words;
he left the edges pointy-sharp,
called the crowd a nest of snakes.
Some slithered away. They had come
to satisfy their curiosity,
have a laugh, and boast among their friends.|
Others stayed and listened,
yearning for a speck of gold.
They copped the flaming derision
and reckoned it a fair price
as the prophet’s wave of abrasive words
crashed over them,
leaving them saturated, raw and gasping.
.Sort yourselves out before somebody else does.
The promised one is coming,
so get yourselves ready.
The water-man talked of the advent
of a man consonant with the cosmos,
one who would embody the four elements
from which all creation
has been lovingly sculpted; and a fifth.
He will be present in and amongst earth’s dust,
bring fire to warm despondent hearts,
Spirit-wind to breathe life and hope,
and the water that alone can truly quench
the thirst inside us all.
And a fifth is eternity.