Fifth Sunday of Lent Reflection
by Allison Blay
“Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.”
(Ezekiel 47: 9)
“Attention is the beginning of devotion.” ~Mary Oliver
“In the particular is contained the universal.” ~James Joyce
Recently, my family and I went camping at a nearby state park called Silver Springs, home of one of the world’s largest artesian springs. Surrounded by cedars and live oaks draped in Spanish moss, water birds, fish and other wildlife are abundant there. In a state known for tourism, Silver Springs is Florida’s oldest tourist attraction, dating back to before the Civil War. In ancient times, Native Americans viewed it as a sacred place, calling it “Sua-ille-aha”—which roughly translates to “sun-glittering waters.”
Today, this ancient, sacred place of radiant, crystalline waters is in jeopardy. All of Florida’s magnificent natural springs are, due to water overuse, agricultural contamination, and the like. But Silver Springs faces an additional challenge at this moment in its history: a cattle rancher wants to pump 1.2 million gallons of water a day from the aquifer that feeds the springs. Now having spent time there, I feel I must do more than shake my head from a distance; I must get truly involved in efforts to save the springs.
Watershed Discipleship teaches us that in order to care for creation, we must become more connected to and take responsibility for the water and land under our feet. Attending to the exquisite beauty of Silver Springs has led to my devotion to it, and to all Florida springs. In the particular beauty of this place, I experience the universal beauty of all creation. And I know that, just as the spring feeds the river, which flows into the entire river system, which spills out into the ocean, so my care of this one spring will also bubble forth, leading me to care about other springs, other rivers, other watersheds.
Prayer: Creator God, help us to experience your universal love for all creation by attending to the unique beauty of our particular surroundings. Let that attention lead us to become devoted stewards of creation in concrete ways.
Allison Blay holds a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, a Master of Education from the University of Florida, and a Certificate in Spiritual Formation from Columbia Theological Seminary. She facilitates online adult education theology classes for Notre Dame. For the past 18 years, she and her husband Steve have coordinated Friends Across the Ages, a nursing home volunteer outreach program they founded. They live in Gainesville, Florida with their two children.