Living Water

June 9, 2008
By Nathan Egan, Corvallis, OR

The sun beat down on the hard, dry earth while they toiled in the fields and sweated over their labors; the ground was difficult, thick and obstinate, but it was marvelous—a beautiful earth. As they continued their travail, uprooting weeds, planting seeds, and tending to the ground—and to each other, they worked silently, side by side, occasionally glancing at each other, unbeknownst to the other, and engraving thoughts in their minds about the other person’s world: what it must have been and why. These thoughts made the man and the woman’s silence company enough because they could internally commune, could be one in the world.
I don’ understand him. He don’ talk much. I guess I’m just a big talker. That’s how I like connectin’ with people. I wish I knew him better, though. We seem so different. We come from different places, have different beliefs. Hmm. Maybe we aren’t so different. Maybe we got somethin’ we don’ know about. I don’ know. He look like he seen a lot in life—I guess we all have, though. People grow up so different, see so different things. How can they be similar? I might just have to find out.
I wonder who she is. We barely know each other, only work together in this field. I guess I should blame myself because I don’t really reach out to her much. I enjoy talking to people, but I’m not really the kind that jumps out, shakes your hand and wants to know your life story. Even if I did start a conversation, what would I say? She comes from a completely different place; she has seen different things. I don’t know if I can relate to her. If people grow up so different, how can they be similar? Maybe I’ll find out.
The noisy murmur of thoughts in their minds was not broken by a conversation, but by song. While his brain kept teeming, filling with questions and impressions, hers switched to music. She opened her mouth and sang her song sang her song sang her song, sending out its fluid gyrations until the earth was filled.
Upon the mountain, my Lord spoke.
Out of his mouth came fire and smoke.
Looked all around me, it looked so fine,
Then I asked my Lord if all was mine.

Ev’ry time I feel the spirit
Moving in my heart I will pray.
Yes ev’ry time I feel the spirit
Moving in my heart I will pray.

Jordan River is chilly an’ cold.
It chills the body, but not the soul.
There ain’t but one way upon this track.
It runs to heaven and right back.

Ev’ry time I feel the spirit
Moving in my heart I will pray.
Yes ev’ry time I feel the spirit
Moving in my heart I will pray. ("Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit” Arr. William Dawson)

“Where did you learn that song?”
“I been singing this song since I’se a chile. My mama taught it to me ‘cause she said ‘you gotta know this song ‘cause it got a message that you’ll need for the rest of your life.’”
“What is the message?”
“Weren’t you listenin’?”
“Yes, but I don’t think that I caught it all.”
“It’s about feelin’ the spirit and prayin’. You gotta know the Lord. You gotta know him like he know you.”
“But how do you know Him? I can’t see Him anywhere.”
“Have you tried findin’ Him? He’s all over. He the earth, the water, the greens, the fish jumpin’ in the stream, the people on the road, the everything.”
“He’s a fish?”
“No, not in flesh. In spirit. Don’ you see? He made this earth. He everywhere. Those fish really know where life’s at. I just wanna be like them. Bring me that water. Feel the water. Taste it.”
“What’s so great about the water?”
“It’ll bring me new life. Until then, I just stay here with you, pullin’ out the weeds. Nothin’ wrong with you, but it hurts pullin’ the weeds. It’s hard labor.”
“We all have to do it, though. We can’t have any flowers or any crop if we don’t pull out the weeds. Otherwise, nothing will grow.”
“See? Now you’se startin’ to understand.”
“Understand what?”
“Why you here mister?”
“Because it’s my job to work in the fields.”
“That’s part.”
“And I—well I guess I’m learning and improving myself.”
“The work is hard, but I help myself and my family.”
“Exactly. You happy with what you done in life?”
“Not with everything, but I’m starting to see that my life isn’t as bad as I thought it was.”
“Are the weeds gone yet?”
“Not entirely. I can’t get all of them immediately.”
“But you do as much as you can.”
“Yes, I try.”
“That’s all you gotta do—the best you can. Another’s gon’ make the difference.”
“That’s comforting. I’ve always inwardly believed that, but I feared that it wouldn’t be true or someone else would ridicule me for it.”
“It’s all right. You’se understandin’ now. You ready for the water?”
“I think so. I want to be ready. I’ve always wanted it. I just didn’t know where to find it.”
“Well, now you know. So let’s go an’ get it.”
Then they left the field, stepping off onto a golden yellow pathway stretching along the field to the river.
“Look. We walkin’ dem golden streets.”
“Yes, we are.”
“And there’s the water, just ahead.”
“What about the field?”
“Don’t you remember? They gon’ be all right. We done what we could. It’s our time to go. I just can’t wait for that water. So cool, refreshing. It’s gon’ bring me my happiness, my Lord.”
“I can’t wait either.”
The field remained behind them, only a few weeds marring it; and the seeds they planted were in the soil, left behind for generations to take from. They walked on, down the golden streets, their labor done, and reached the pools of water. They jumped in and felt its goodness and rejoiced. The spirit of the Lord pulsated in their flesh and they prayed and they were moved—they were refreshed.

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This article has 2 comments.

on Aug. 16 2008 at 6:13 pm
Good job getting published, bro. It's okay, but I bet you can do better, keep trying. Best of luck!

ninian said...
on Aug. 7 2008 at 9:15 pm
I love the almost lyrical feel to the whole story that the song creates. plus your use of dialect was terrific.

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