IT'S GETTING NICE out! The weather is warming up, Al Gore is panicking, and there is beauty all around us! Beautiful sky, beautiful trees, beautiful sunshine, and beautiful...um...people...
Today's reading from the Coptic Lectionary relates the conversation between Christ and the Samaritan woman. Speaking of earthly pleasures, Jesus said to her,
“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst...”
This exchange reminds me of the little-known song It's So Easy, by Guns n' Roses, a rock band popular when I was in elementary school in the late (ehem) 80's.
In the beginning, the rock star boasts of his life of pleasure: "It's so easy, (easy!) when everyone's trying to please me, baby!" The tone is proud and self-satisfied and the tempo begins hard and fast. But, as the song progresses, the the tempo gets slower and slower and the tone becomes depressed, as the singer laments that now "nothing seems to please me..."
He had squeezed every drop from the pleasure this world offers. Eventually, as it no longer satisfied him, he fell into despair.
Like the Samaritan woman, and many of us, he experienced the emptiness of trying to find satisfaction in something less than that living water, God Himself. Nicholas Cabasilas remarks,
Those who live for themselves, even when they derive joy from the things which are truly good, are unable to reap [pure] pleasure. While they rejoice in the goods things at hand...[tribulations]...cause them distress.So, as our eyes begin to wander and wonder this season, before we throw ourselves headlong after some pleasure or lust, might we take time to think ahead and ask, "Where will this lead me? Where is the end of this pleasure? What happens after I've squeezed all I can from it? Will it put me on the path to pure, lasting joy? Or will it simply dump me on the side of the road?"
Those who have transferred their life to God have [pure] pleasure and no sadness at all. While there are many things which may harm them, there is nothing that distresses them, for there is nothing unpleasant with God, for whom they live.*
*Cabasilas, Nicholas. The Life in Christ, p. 218