I thirst

Clive Sutton

Clive Sutton
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

I thirst ...

... I hear this as the word of the man on the cross

... And also as the cry of all humanity

... A cry of all peoples.

Millions of those peoples ...

In our time, several millions do not have reliable access to safe drinking water. Despite human ingenuity with wells and canals ... and pipes and taps ... and reservoirs and sewerage systems, many do not have safe water. ... Nor do they have the justice that would ensure that those engineering skills are applied for the benefit of everyone.

... So the word of the man on the cross

... remains the cry of all humanity,

... and a cry of all peoples ...

... which we could hear today, with compassion and with a will to act.

What was Jesus offered but ‘a sponge soaked in vinegar’?

Was that just mockery? The gospel writer may have been suggesting a tiny touch of compassion in the soldiers, and I don’t know how Joseph Haydn read that part, but I have read it mainly as continued mockery ...

And what is the ‘sponge soaked in vinegar’ now - for those who thirst today? It is the further mockery of a polluted well, a sea rotten with plastic litter, a river overcome by toxic industrial waste and a coastline blighted by spilled oil.

We now have to say of ourselves: "Father forgive us for we know not what we do."

We all need water, and we sometimes rightly fear it, as during this last month when a famous hymn line was re-spoken as: "Oh hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril from the sea." In good climates and in good seasons, water comes more gently. It ‘sweetly distils in the dew and the rain.' We drink it, we bathe in it and we know our dependence. Meditating about our relationship with water, a distinguished scientist not long ago made a telling Latin pun about it. Not only is water the medium of our bodies, he wrote, it is also - in one sense - our mother:

"... Water is life’s mater and matrix ... mother and medium ..."

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