The Parable of the Pool
There was once a pool amid a dusty landscape. Actually it was a wadi—a valley which in the rainy season becomes a stream. When it was full, it was so refreshing. Filled with water, its very presence radiated life all around. It enabled all kinds of greenery to flourish on its banks. Life flowed through its waters. It was a place for water sports. People felt attracted to come and bathe there, to fish, or just to enjoy the smooth blue waters that contrasted so powerfully with the dry landscape. The pool was very proud of all it could do, and of all it meant for those around. But soon the pool dried up. One could hardly imagine a more appropriate symbol of death. Where there was once water, now there was absolutely no life whatever. There was not a single trace of vegetation anywhere in the vicinity. At the bottom of the pool, people could see dead fish, rubbish, and human waste. The surface was ugly—nothing but dirty mud, or lumps of dry, caked earth. No-one would come any more for a picnic. People preferred to avoid it.
The pool became very upset. ‘Why have I, who was once a source of life, become a symbol of death? What has happened to make me so hateful, rejected by everyone like this, when only a few months ago I was so attractive, so inviting to people?’ Whereas before it was very pleased with itself, now its self-image was just the opposite. Everything conspired to make it see itself as ugly, dry, attractive to no-one, life-giving to no-one. What a difference!
Then a few months later the pool filled up again with water, and once again it was back to its old chirpy self. It forgot the feelings it had had when it was dry. But then the experience of dryness returned again, and with it the same sense of disorientation and meaninglessness. Time and time again, the inexorable cycle of rainy years and years of drought continued. Eventually, this alternation made the pool think a bit. ‘In this life, for whatever reason, sometimes it goes well and sometimes it goes badly. The only thing to do is to put up with what happens at each point, and not try to understand what it’s all about.’ But it didn’t find these ideas very encouraging. On the contrary, they just made it discontented and bitter.
But then it had another idea. ‘Up there, at the source of the river, there must be a Wellspring which can make something beautiful out of my dirty surface by sending me, freely and without strings, the flowing water which transforms me and makes me into a delightful lake. I’m not just a pool; I’m a wadi. That’s the only thing that makes sense of these different experiences.’ And that idea led the pool to reflect even more deeply. ‘How self-centred I was, how narcissistic, when I’d just accept all the fulsome compliments people paid me when I was so full of water.’ Now it saw what the water truly was: a gift.
The alternations of positive and negative experiences had brought the pool a new wisdom. Now it was well aware of how ugly its surface was, but it also knew it always had a generous, resourceful companion on its side. It knew who really deserved the compliments and the expressions of thanks that the good times provoked, and now it could pass them on to their proper place. But the pool could never have discovered this if the only experience it had ever had was that of being full of water. It was thanks to both experiences, and to the interplay between them, that the pool had had its true reality revealed, and also the generosity of the Wellspring.
Last night, for the first time in six weeks, I entered my Church.
Dark and cool…the only real source of light focused upon the One who is Light…and Love.
Many tears were shed as we greeted one another. He looked at me…I looked at Him. Long conversation flowed as it hasn’t in such a long time. My prayers have been pitiful petitions for mercy…oh, Lord…mercy…
But this was different. In my silence, eyes fixed intently upon Love’s Captive, I let Him speak to me. Desolation and consolation were the words that reverberated in my heart. I opened the small tome that my 12 yr. old son insisted that I take…I didn’t really want it…I didn’t want to read…I just wanted to be. In the dim light, what seemed to be a random selection, became the message…and it is precious.
My consolation is in the Lord…only. Desolation is a place…a place where all is silent, lonely…a place where His voice is heard best. He is calling the little “pool” to remember the “Wellspring…” the source of all gifts, of all graces…
Of true consolation…