Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thirst for Wisdom - Water, precious water

One important fact about my international travels is my perpetual, almost unquenchable thirst. These three bottles may not look like much, but they are souvenirs of my trip to China. The large (right-most) bottle "Eventide" was purchased before the trip specifically to be filled once I was inside the airport. I'm so prone to dehydration during the flight and I'm averse to paying $3 for a small bottle of water at the airport and they never do seem able to satisfy my need once I board. So I brought my own bottle, filled it in Austin and refilled it in LA before the "long leg" of the journey - crossing the Pacific.

Once in Taipei I was forced to purchase airport water ("don't drink the local water" applies to Taiwan and China). When I landed at the airport in Shanghai I was parched! Absolutely arid. From the time I disembarked at the airport, traipsing through the terminal, going through Immigration, getting my luggage, going through Customs, spotting my driver and walking to the parking lot I was scoping for someplace to buy water. I felt like Carson from "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" croaking "water, water..." As we were leaving the parking lot I spotted a vending machine with bottled water and I made the driver pull over (just short of pulling the wheel over myself). I jumped out and ran over to the machine only to discover that I didn't have any bills small enough. Fortunately the driver graciously bought me a bottle of water. Maybe it was the wild look in my eyes.

Eastern hotels that serve Westerners typically provide bottled water, and the Swissotel in Kunshan was no exception. But I noted there would be a charge if I went over my allotted two bottles a day so every day I boiled water in the room using the handy gadget provided for just that purpose. I refilled the large bottle I brought with me every day, as well as every bottle I acquired along the way. Including refilling the used "hotel" bottles from prior days. I stashed bottles in my suitcase. I became a water hoarder. I didn't go anywhere without a load of at least a gallon of water.

At the factory there were large bottles (similar to Ozarka) of water which I used to refill my bottles during the day. I am not exaggerating. One of the dramas I'll tell as a side line which plays in here is that I was diagnosed with a UTI right before the trip. I was not going to skimp on the water.

On the 1st Saturday I spent in China I enjoyed a day trip to Shanghai. I met up with a friend of mine who spent the weekend there, staying at the Hyatt. At the end of our day-long adventure I'd drained all of my bottles of water so my friend let me take one of her bottles from the Hyatt. That's the brown bottle in the middle. Because of its size - 20oz (550ml) bottle instead of the standard 17oz (500ml) issued by the Swissotel - I held onto that prize.

Finally, at the end of the trip I was prepared to return to the US. I brought with me the large Eventide bottle and the Hyatt bottle, draining them both on the hour and a half trip from the hotel to the airport. Note to self: Use the restroom BEFORE getting in the line to get boarding pass. When I took this picture I was still 30 minutes away from relief.

Also, my now empty water bottles were not going to be refilled until I got back to the States.
Once I was back at the Taipei airport, I purchased more water (the Eau Claire bottle on the left in the top picture). The "Beer Bar" photo was taken in Taipei on my way to Shanghai, but it shows the water so I figured I'd show it here. I actually bought the bottle at the "snack bar" that sold me these delicious dumplings I enjoyed on my way out of town. My next stop was LA where I refilled my water bottles and chowed down on Tex-Mex.

So after such a long journey, it is symbolic that empty water bottles sit amongst my souvenirs. Seeking God in our lives is like having unquenchable thirst. No matter how many times we slake our thirst, our relationship is not one of instant or eternal satisfaction. We must return and revisit the source of all good things in our life. We should never feel satisfied in a way that causes us to relax and stop seeking. We should always be on the lookout for His grace that blesses us, nourishes us, replenishes our souls.


HisFireFly said...

Oh Fran, this is a wonderful analogy! I pray that we never, NEVER become satified, always on the lookout for a just a little bit more, overstocking on His presence, for He is truly all that sustains us!

Well said, welcome home, go take a nice, long drink!

Anonymous said...

I have a small prayer book about and with words by Mother Teresa. The theme of the book is her reflections on the words Jesus said on the cross "I thirst". She interprets the words to mean Jesus longed for our love.

Not far off from your interpretation, I think.

you gotta wonder said...

@HisFireFly and @therextras - thank you both. I hope that I am never satisfied, but always seeking.