Living Water and the Bread of Life

Lenten Reflection, Sunday, March 15, 2020

By: Kitty Williams

Is Lent about food and drink?

Some of us view food literally during Lent. We give up a favorite food or drink, or we fast on certain days. But if you’re like me, it gets complicated. Pesky unwritten rules confuse me. Giving up French fries or sugar is healthy, as well. Can I get credit for fasting and wise choices at the same time? The “two-fer” is so tempting — and my own motives get so mixed.

Happily, scripture offers spiritual food and drink that’s good and good for us. In Sunday’s Gospel, for example, Jesus asks a woman for a drink of water, but immediately turns things upside down and offers her Living Water to drink. Naturally, she’s interested, and puzzled. Later in John’s Gospel, Jesus, after feeding the 5000, tells the crowd that he himself is the Bread of Life.

Living Water and Bread of Life. If you eat living bread and drink living water, says Jesus, you will never be hungry or thirsty again. Sounds good to me. Sometimes I echo the Samaritan woman, saying, “Sir, give me this water so that I may never be thirsty…”

Mostly, though, I forget about Living Water and the Bread of Life. Then Lent arrives to remind me to seek the food that matters.

Some years ago, I found Bread and Wine, a book that has enriched my Lenten practice ever since with Lent and Easter essays by ancient and modern writers. Every Ash Wednesday I open it again. It’s familiar and new every time, and throughout the season I am challenged and nourished. So far this year, phrases like these have spoken to me directly:

• Thomas à Kempis: “…wherever you go you take yourself along.”
• Thomas Merton: “We can deny ourselves rigorously for the wrong reason and end up by pleasing ourselves mightily with our self-denial.”
• Søren Kirkegaard: “[Christ] never asks for admirers, worshippers, or adherents. No, he calls disciples.”

And because it’s close to my heart – and St. Mary’s – check out Christopher Brookfield’s Irreverent Relevancies for nourishment in Lent (and the entire church year)!

Taste and see!