Willow Wonderings

The Wine of Patience

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This week, I was a guest at the wedding in Galilee that John describes in the story of Jesus turning water into wine (see John 2).

As soon as I returned to campus, I had friends greeting me with stories, hugs, jubilant faces. I felt thrown into a party of reuniting, beginning classes, starting a new semester fresh –

only I was afraid that the sweetness of a new semester would soon run out, like wine at the wedding reception. I feared that once I would return to the Davidson way of thinking (busy rushing pace do-everything-without-stopping race) and the sweetness of college living would turn sour with my own preoccupations. So to keep the good wine flowing, I began planning my next semester to go abroad to Samoa, where I could learn and study and flourish with adventure and no college-life stress to stop me…

I was convinced that it was my time to leave and explore the world; yet in my dream of travelling, I was searching for the wine that this world cannot provide. No experience on Earth – satisfactory or otherwise – is lasting, nor can it provide ultimate fulfilment.

Often, as I have remarked this week, my search for fulfilment leads me to dissatisfaction with the present moment. I am constantly on a treasure hunt for what lies within me; I constantly turn around in circles with what the Buddha describes as an unquenchable thirst. Yet when I settle my thoughts and focus on the presence of Christ within me, I no longer need to search.

This week, I understood when Jesus spoke, “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

Even more remarkably, I have seen how Jesus turns water – the basic element of all life – into wine, a drink of deep satisfaction. It seems unfathomable that Jesus’ first miracle was celebrating a wedding, but John’s story testifies to his solidarity with our enjoyment of life, as well as our suffering. Wine represents both the sweetness of deep satisfaction and the bloodshed of Jesus’ crucifixion. In turning water to wine, Jesus helps us to understand how our lives may be transformed with the richness and depth of God’s compassion.

This is the wine I have tasted today: I take a moment of prayer before I enter into the world, and all life is transformed into a miraculous sight. I no longer crave to travel abroad so soon when I can sit on my floor with a friend and marvel at life’s wonders, or when I can watch the trees stand in their magnificence, or be in the presence of a lady bug. In these moments of centered prayer, I feel content, filled to the brim with gratitude for simple blessings. This is the sweet wine that only can be found in true connection with Divine Reality – in the present moment. Here, I must be patient, willing to be with the present no matter what it brings.

As I reflect upon the past three days, my time of discernment has transformed my understanding of patience as a foundational element of the compassionate life. With a common root of the Greek verb meaning “to suffer”, patience opens me to the beauty and suffering of the present moment.
As I travel on the road of compassion,
I come to drink the living waters
of a spiritual journey, in community
with friends, teachers, a growing family.
I come to live in deep solidarity with those around me,
no matter the workload we carry.
I come to learn to drink in the wellspring of existence
and wait patiently
for each drop of water to turn to wine –
it takes time
for the Divine to open our mouths and eyes.
May I set my sights upon God to fill my heart each day
and let each droplet be transformed as it may.


One thought on “The Wine of Patience

  1. Your quote about Jesus’ giving living water is appropriate for the wedding story about new wine. Like the contrast in Jn. 4 between the well water of the Samaritan woman and Jesus’ living water, in Jn. 2 is a contrast between the Jewish water of purification and Jesus’ new wine. And the new wine is just a few days after the contrast (in 1:31-34) between John the Baptist’s baptizing with water and Jesus as the one who will baptize with the Spirit.
    Later, in 7:38-39 Jesus says his living water portrays the Spirit, which he will give to his disciples after he is glorified (after his hour to depart and return to the Father comes, as in 13:1). His last extended teaching to his disciples in Jn. 14-16 then focuses on the gift he will leave them after he departs: the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth.
    So in Jn. 2 his hour has not yet come, but he goes ahead and gives new wine anyway as a sign (another liquid metaphor) of his giving the Spirit when his hour does come.

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