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~ Tiny Drops Flooding Humanity ~

Last week I rode my mountain bike into a nearby swamp and sat down against a tree stump. The Spring Peepers (frogs) were singing their magnificent cadence. I planned to write this Reflection there, but the magic of the place lured me into just listening. I recalled Psalm 104: "O Lord my God, you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of its upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved...I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord" (Psalm 104: 1-5, 33-34, NIV).

In contrast, this week I spent time on the banks of the flooding Delaware River in the northeast US. The flood level was higher than that of last September, and the highest in the last fifty years. The flood waters of this river were not directly caused by rain. A couple hundred of small creeks were receptacles of zillions of drops of water falling from the sky. Congregating in these tributaries, they had nowhere to go except to the river basin. There, in the Delaware River, they became one movement, one body, 1.7 million gallons flowing past me every second.

 Like wildfires, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural events, floods can only be called disasters when people choose to live and work where they happen. Otherwise, such events dissipate the earth's energy and replenishes the environment. From one viewpoint, they are blessings. From another, disasters. From yet another, they are both at the same time.

Just as disasters can be blessings in disguise, (and I experienced that), blessings can also be disasters in disguise (which I also experienced.) Can you think of something that you first regarded as a blessing, but later proved to be a disaster? A lot of million dollar lottery winners can. Can you think of apparent disasters that proved to be blessings? Many of us can, or will be able to when enough time passes when we are able to look back and say "Thank you, God" for something for which we had no gratitude at first.

The almost two million gallons of water flowing by me per second reminded me of other events in human history. In August 1963, 200,000 people covered the ground from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument demonstrating for civil rights under the leadership of one man, Martin Luther King, Jr. Hundreds of courageous people climbed the Berlin Wall and hammered it down. Pope John Paul's legacy pulled a constant presence of hundreds of thousands beneath the window of his death bed and now, an equal number parades past his body. Two thousand years ago, twelve men who hid in fear after the crucifixion of the Christ emerged to begin a flow of faith and spiritual power, later joined by billions of individuals.

This is what is meant by "the body of Christ." The sea of humanity rests in various basins. The ones who carry their Creator's blessings overflowed the banks that were supposed to contain them, flooding every home that chose to be a receptacle of the Holy Spirit. I am just a drop, a single cell, of no importance in and of myself, quite fragile and vulnerable. As part of the body of Christ, however, I am joined by you and billions of others, in the "communion of the saints." That is a profound miracle of existence for which I am grateful.

But another miracle to be pondered is that Christ knows the exact number of the hairs on our heads and every single thought in our hearts and minds. In God's eyes, we are worthy of His incarnation, death and resurrection. In my own eyes, I am worthy of nothing. That is how it should be. Standing next to the flooding waters of the Delaware reminded me of this. Listening to the Spring Peepers also reminded me of this. I will return again to listen to their cadence, and to the banks of the Delaware to listen to its receding roar.

I end with another wonder. How can so many Christians not feel the lure of God's creation? "Power walks" and exercise is good for the body. Sitting down next to a gurgling creek or a flooding river for an hour is good for the soul. Such meditative states reminds us of the blessings and disasters in our lives. And with that knowledge we pray through and beyond them.

John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.

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