The Water Carrier

(For PMK)

A little child
carried water in a battered tin pannier,
and although it was at that time
a task she only half understood,
all her life
she would become
a bearer of life,
a bringer of the water
that cleanses and slakes,
purifies and soothes,
a liquid that speaks not of itself
but proclaims its source,
reflecting the colours and depths,
and the genius of its Maker.

The memory of that little child,
fixed in that defining, ambivalent moment,
shows that what carries the water
might not indeed be fine or fit,
but what matters first and finally
is the water itself,
unsullied and miraculous.

“I will give you,” says God,
“Living water,
and I want you to carry it for me,
so carefully, so lovingly,
all of your life-
till the end of your life-
to all the thirsty:
those lost in the desert of sorrow,
those fallen into the abyss of pain.
Search for them,
and sit them down, one by one,
in the shade of tall trees,
or by the hearth of a merciful house,
and let them drink.”