Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Bottomless Well

Some of us by nature are caregivers; it is in our blood, in the very fibre, muscle and bone of our being. It is not just that there are those who need our care. We ourselves need to care, to mend and heal, to rescue and restore. I suspect that trait in one degree of another is found in most people. Natural care givers often hold suspect those who have no apparent need to give care, and recognize as pathological those who instead of giving care, victimize those who either need care or give care. That proclivity is not just pathological, it is wicked.

There is only One who is a bottomless well. Through the Christ flows the water of the Spirit, the gift of the Father’s love. All the rest of us lesser caregivers fall into one of two major categories; the shallow well that taps ground water, and the well spring that has tapped a source deeper than itself.

The caregiver that functions as a shallow well is soon drained of inner resources and only slowly filled by fresh rain water seeping through the soil. The shallow well, giving of its own fleshly strength and human power, gladly gives all it has but then sits depleted, empty and tired, very tired of caring. Some shallow wells are slowly repleted, others once depleted sit as dry holes for times upon times; their care giving days are over.

The caregiver that functions as a wellspring has tapped into the deeper artesian spring of God’s love and presence and even if depleted is quickly filled. Contrasting the earthly and heavenly well there is One who said, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13,14).

There are some limits to caregiving that must be recognized. Even Christ the Caregiver is limited by the freedom of will that is an intrinsic right of those for whom He cares. He allows us to say “No!” We ourselves are bound by the same reality in our offers to care for others. On another level there is no comparison of His ability as a caregiver with our lesser ability. It is not for nothing that He is called the Redeemer, and we the redeemed. His caregiving becomes incarnate in our caregiving but subject to our humanity and limitations, but by the grace of God we are what we are and His grace in us is not in vain. Caregivers give care only by virtue of their connection with the Christ in the power of the Spirit.

Being filled with this amazing water of the Holy Spirit requires both inflow and outflow. Without the inflow that comes through worship, praise, prayer and reflection on God’s word the well soon dries up. It is necessary to drink daily and drink deeply. Without outflow, without giving care the water becomes stagnant and the well itself becomes dank and drear. The one who actively leans upon Him is like a tree planted the water that sends out its roots by the stream. The one who drinks deeply of His Presence is like a deep well of water springing forth and giving life to those who need care.

A Response to a Query:

There is a fine line between giving care and trying to fix the problems of others. In our family we have discovered the Crusader Rabbit syndrome. Crusader Rabbit is large, white, fluffy bunny that takes his sword, his shield and his lance, mounts his white stallion and charges down on a problem situation (or person) and attempts to fix things. The problem is that fixing things is not our responsibility, but loving and giving care is. Generally when Crusader Rabbit mounts his white horse and charges down he is about to get knocked off his horse.

I think it is a good thing to volunteer, unlike the shrunken soul who said that the best advice he ever received was to never volunteer. You have remarked that “As a child I was told not to speak unless spoken to and to wait until I was asked to do something.” As a child I remember the dictum, "children should be seen and not heard", (and I might, add “and preferably not seen either!”). That kind of attitude was a vestige of those halcyon days when the governess presented the children to the parents after dinner for inspection, but for little else. Children should be respectful, but so should adults, even of children. On a simple level even respectful children would bless their parents by volunteering to wash the dishes or walk the dog.

As for your living arrangement. There are so many mixed motives and emotions in any family living arrangement. What's done is done. However there is here a matter for some serious and persistent prayer. The question is not "What should I have done?", but, "What should I do now?" The mind of man plans his way but the Lord directs his step.

Canon Rob+