Thirsty?

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I’ve been trying to eat and live a bit healthier in these past few months. One of the things I’ve been forcing myself to do is to drink a lot more water than I have been accustomed to doing. It hasn’t always been easy, but something I read in a health email newsletter recently reminded me of the importance of water to physical health:

The human body is comprised of about 70% water. Next to air, water is the most vital substance our systems need to function properly. Water is involved in every aspect of the body’s functions . . . The human body can survive for five weeks without food, but only five days without water.

Many of us no longer experience the urge to drink, making water consumption feel like a chore. If you no longer get thirsty, this is the most important time to hydrate. A lack of the thirst sensation is an indication that the body has adapted to its state of dehydration and no longer tells the brain to trigger the thirst signal. Once you begin to hydrate yourself with water on a daily basis, you will find your thirst sensation is quickly restored and drinking water will become part of your normal routine.

The last line certain seems somewhat counterintuitive, but I can personally attest to its truth. Yes indeed, it is true: the more water I’ve been drinking lately, the more often I actually “feel” thirsty. There really IS something about actually taking in more water which makes you more sensitive for your need for it.

This little “H20 factoid” reminded me of Jesus’ invitation in the Gospel of John: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37b).

If we accept that physiologically, it is possible to be thirsty and not even know it, it isn’t difficult to think that this could also happen to us spiritually as well. You see, the problem isn’t that we really aren’t thirsty (we are!) and don’t need Christ’s Life Giving Spirit (we do!); on the contrary, we may be so desperately thirsty that our own bodies and souls have actually shut off the signal telling us of our need. The less I’ve eaten and drank of Jesus body and blood (cf. John 6:55), the more likely it is that I may be in danger of losing my spiritual thirst sensations! (Kind of makes sense why some ecclesiological traditions are so committed to observing the Eucharist each Sunday, doesn’t it?)

For me, at least, it is a startling realization to discover that the times when I am most “spiritually dehydrated” are precisely the times when I may be least likely to recognize it. Furthermore as a teacher of the Gospel, I probably shouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t clear evidence of the “streams of living water flowing from within” when I am living in such a spiritually dehydrated state.

So today, I ask, “Are you thirsty?”

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