The pond is a large one beside a major roadway. Each spring, the rains fill it to overflowing, the excess water siphoning over the banks and making broad rivulets down the hillside. That fortunate overflow makes its passage to the river nearby, joining with the rest of the huge torrent as it shoves its way with abandon down the waterway, to join ever wider rivers, eventually making its way inexorably down to the sea.
How could water be fortunate?
I suppose one would have to stay around for a few months to understand that point of view.
The pond, for a short time, is a beautiful sight, so much so that some optimistic folks have built park benches and even a dock from which to fish or swim floating on the surface near the bank. During the months blessed with rain, there is frequent use made of these improvements. Romantic couples sit by the water’s edge; children splash and paddle in the clear, sparkling liquid that fills the reservoir; even a fisherman or two might stand on the bank, tossing lures under the snags and stones that line the end of the basin.
But, the day comes–sooner than one might think–when no one considers even sticking a toe in this pond, much less gazing on it admiringly. The water which was not blessed to make its way to freedom while still clear and refreshing, has turned a grotesquely green hue and is rapidly covered with a layer which defies any brave soul to violate its surface.
Presently, there are no admirers, and the once-popular retreat is abandoned, bereft of visible activity of any kind. The unfortunate water left behind in the rainy season is trapped in a putrid sea of green, stinky scum.
How could this happen?
What disaster has struck this beautiful body of water, to leave it so–lorn of appeal and purpose?
Simple. The rains have all but ceased, and the water that replenishes the pond comes sporadically, but not in a deluge as before. When it does fall, none escapes over the side.
The new supply only goes into the depression in the ground, not out of it.
There is no flow, no moving current. The biological eco-system produces nutrients, lots of them, upon which the algae feeds, and then it thrives in the bright sunlight. Soon the green scum is out of control, making the pond useless for any kind of recreation.
A chance conversation with a customer drove my thoughts to that unattractive place again just recently.
“I’ve come to the point in my life where there are no expectations of anything from me,” he declared.
I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I prodded a bit.
He explained, “For most of my life, I’ve been engaged, and active with other people. I’m getting older now and I no longer have to interact with them. I get to just enjoy the things I’ve learned and am learning.”
It seems my friend believes he has earned this respite–that his God has given it to him as a reward for hard work.
As he speaks, my mind wanders. All I see in my vision is that scum-covered pond.
Imagine! Of all the times when he should be sharing, in copious quantities, what he has learned, he chooses to become a hermit. Satisfied to keep his knowledge and wisdom to himself, he will die happy.
I say his, but I intend that you understand clearly I don’t believe it is his in any way.
Every single thing we have is a gift; we have deserved none of it!
It not only should be shared, it must be shared.
To keep knowledge and wisdom to ourselves is to become thieves, not once—not twice—but three times.
First, we steal from our Creator, from whom all good things come. They are His, not ours.
We steal from those waiting downstream for the bounty to overflow.
We steal from ourselves, preventing interaction which keeps us vibrant and active.
Like the pond, that which once attracted visitors now repels them. We even suffer personally, as all activity moves deep under the surface.
Trapped in an eternal cycle, we regurgitate the same old things again and again, never interacting and never sharing.
The word describes smelly, putrid water that is trapped and still. Likewise, it describes our souls when we move ourselves prematurely out of the current and flow of life.
Give me the white water of the rapids any day!
I want to be rushing to the sea, surrounded by others who are going the same direction.
The torrent of the raging river is alive and dynamic.
The backwater of the stagnant pond is instead, defunct and listless, going nowhere.
I think I’ll keep rolling along. There is still a bend or two to go around before I reach the ocean.
The company along the way has been a treat, too. I hope you’ll keep moving right along with me. We’ve got lots more to learn together as we go.
Besides, I’m not a fan of scum-covered green water.
I agree wholeheartedly with those immortal words of the late humorist Erma Bombeck:
Green is not a happy color.
If thou would’st have that stream of hard-earn’d knowledge, of Wisdom heaven-born, remain sweet running waters, thou should’st not leave it to become a stagnant pond.
(Sir Frances Bacon~English lawyer/philosopher~1561-1626)
For just as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, yielding seed for the sower and bread for eating, so will my message be that goes out of my mouth–it won’t return to me empty. Instead, it will accomplish what I desire, and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.