Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fountains of Chai

What is a fountain? Why is it that when you or I look at a fountain, we typically respond with joy or at least appreciate the beauty of what we're beholding? I want to talk about fountains today, particularly fountains of life, or in classic David imagery, fountains of chai. So, let us indulge together.

Drinking some home-brewed chai this morning and talking to God some (moreso reading his words and letting him talk to me), I was struck by some things that feel pivotal in terms of where I and others get our source of life, well-being and joy.

So...Fountains. What's with those bubbling bodies of water (or chocolate if we get lucky)? Other than the sheer beauty that fountains possess, I think that what makes fountains most alluring is that they are a source of constant flow, and typically a continual flow of that which we all need to survive: water (or once again, chocolate, for any of you chocoholics out there). Where so many other bodies of water have the potential to dry up, diminish, or become stagnant, a fountain, at its best, is ever flowing, majestic and beckoning onlookers to behold both its rootedness as a source and its ability to grow beyond gravity.

I find that these qualities also ring true for things or people in life that we look to for a source of joy. In my life, I have friends whose fellowship and presence at times represent grounded-ness, joy, and life. Or I look to artistic passions such as writing, acting, and producing theatre to fill my needs for excitement, beauty, joy, and rootedness. None of these are bad in themselves until I begin to look to them as my primary fountains. Why? Because there is only one fountain that is primary, and the rest can easily dry out at any moment, just like the chai ceased to flow at Borders years ago (my nightmare come true).

One of my fountains has felt very dry recently, and I found myself thirsty for fresh chai. Here's what I found:

"They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights." -Psalm 36:8.

There has been a time in history where people who claimed to know God also claimed to have an experience with him that one of their writers characterized as "abundant" and as if drinking from a "river of delights." That's some strong language! Is that still available? Why would anyone speak of such a river of delights with such confidence? The answer is perhaps in the next verse of this Psalm (which was actually a song in its original form):

"For with you is the fountain of life; in your light, we see light." -Psalm 36:9.

This Psalm is a song to God, and here in verse 9, the writer of the song is referring to God as the FOUNTAIN of life, or at least saying that it resides somewhere with this God. We also see the imagery of light, which during Chicago winters, many equate to hope and joy (or a lack thereof). So with this God is a fountain (source) of life, and light which helps us to see light. Interesting words, once again.

I will not list all of the references to the well-being of soul that I have recently come across in the Psalms, but suffice to say that there are PLENTY! In learning about the soul, it seems that the soul is that place where our bodies and hearts receive nourishment, where we desperately desire love, affection, meaning, and everything that a fountain of life could possibly provide. And God is acutely aware of our souls' deep needs:

"I will be glad and rejoice in your love, for you saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul. You have not handed me over to the enemy but have set my feet in a spacious place."-Psalm 31:7-8.

Moving from water to chai, a drink which caffeinates, awakens, and just plain makes me happy, So where can I get my chai that doesn't run out? What does it mean to feast on the abundance of God's house, to drink from his river of delights? If the fountain is with God, and in his light we can see light, where is that fountain and how do I get it? A woman from Samaria once had a similar conversation with God, and here's what Jesus had to say, regarding two kinds of water.

"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."- John 4:13-14.

Hmm...Sounds kind of like a fountain to me. Elsewhere, Jesus says that he is the equivalent to bread, and the bread of life, as if we are to get our sustenance from him just like we would get our physical sustenance from one of the most basic of foods. And he goes onto say that the person who believes in him would never go thirsty. I have to believe he was speaking about more than just physical bread and water.

What are you thirsty for? What is your chai, the thing that caffeinates you and provides your soul with a sense of invigoration and well-being? Where are your fountains? And what might it be like to drink of Jesus as the primary fountain? If Jesus' claims are true and if the experiences of these Old Testament Jewish writers are true, then something is available that must be better and richer than any normal feast or fountain could provide. I've tasted it and want more....fountains of his chai*.

"Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare." -Isaiah 55:2b

"Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." -Psalm 34:8

*A friend of mine once told me that the letters "chai" also make up a Hebrew word which means "life." Bring on the chai and lots of it!