There is a very cool item featured at our neighbourhood Chapters. It has been there for some time, and rarely do I ever fight the urge to play with it. I probably should just buy it and take it home.
It is an eco-friendly, clever painting slate designed to sit on your desk and wait expectantly for those sporadic creative moments during the day which require a canvas and a brush. It is designed to capture that moment and translate it into a stunning, monochrome work of artistic genius; using merely water no less! Imagine, a reusable canvass with an endless supply of medium. Wonderful.
The slate is propped up by a base that doubles as a reservoir for the water, which also comes with a handful of river rocks for that extra flair of tranquility. A personal retreat centre wherever you go. Sell that timeshare in Belize! No longer required.
But genius is short-lived. Water evaporates. The painting slowly fades and the slate canvass eventually removes any trace of inspiration. It becomes clean, restored once again, waiting for the next moment to come along. The painting slate is a more refined, less violent version of the Etch-A-Sketch for adults with long pauses between artistic expression.
One visit descended into disappointment when I discovered there was no water in the reservoir. The creative train screeched to a halt right there on the tracks. A fatal flaw in the design exposed! The slate doesn’t work without water. No water – no painting. It seems ironic how the most ample natural resource in Canada was incredibly absent. The tools were all there: the slate, the brush, an atmosphere of learning and discovery, the river rocks of tranquility… all except the water. The well had dried up.
I have been noticing seasons in my life where it feels exactly like this. All the pieces are there for inspiration: a loving wife, super kids, wonderful church family, peaceful property, great city, much family and friends close by. And yet the well can be dry. It doesn’t make sense does it? At times it seems like life has set us up for the greatest masterpiece, but we are missing that one thing to make it all possible. For those who take more initiative, we look for the next best alternative. When we settle for second or third best, it rarely ends up as satisfying.
There was a woman who lived in a time when you had to fetch water from a local well to wash, clean and cook. Water was needed to survive, but it always ran out. Unfortunately for her, she was restricted to go alone at the hottest time of the day because of the lifestyle she lived. One day, she met a man waiting there who was too exhausted to draw the container up himself. He asked her for a drink. She found this odd, because he was willing to talk with her. Their two peoples did not mix company. The conversation quickly turned in a way she would never expect. As she drew water from the community well, she sensed that her own internal well was filling up; but with hope, love, peace, and joy. This man captured her attention by observing that she had spent her whole life trying to fill her well with other things, love, and several husbands. It obviously didn’t work. The well eventually dried up. So in another picture of irony, she was left to go to the community well all alone, with an empty jar and an empty heart. Jesus changed her world that day with these words,
“Those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” John 4:14
Imagine a reservoir that never ran dry? Imagine a paint pallet that never dries out? Imagine an ink well that never suffers from writer’s block? Imagine a heart that always has joy, peace, and love that never fails? This new possibility certainly had convinced her, for she ran back into the town to tell the same people who had shut her out from the community.
Our own wells will always run dry because we were never created to be self-sufficient. They can keep us going for a while, but not indefinitely. We will reach for that brush, only to discover that there is nothing to dip it in. Rather, we were designed to be connected into the Well that is always fresh, always flows, always full of life.
It is never a question of what you need (I think we have figured that out by now), but where you go to find it.