At The Watering Hole


The Need For Places Of Spiritual Renewal

by Eric Elkin

We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen.
— 2 Corinthians 4: 18

Summer in New York City can be sweltering. Hotter than most people would imagine. A landscape of concrete and windows is designed to absorb and reflect heat even if the architects didn't intend it. The longer you walk around the city the more it takes a toll on your body. Often leaving you dehydrated and desiring a cool place for your feet to rest.


The summer heat was one of the reasons Peggy and I enjoyed Washington Square Park so much. Even in the darker days of New York City, Washington Square had green space. Trees to shelter you from the direct sun. And, in the center of the park was the large water fountain. 


We were always drawn to the fountain like it was some remote desert oasis and we were on the verge of dying. Sitting on the edge, we could remove our shoes and soak our feet in the water. The water provided needed relief to a body which felt like it was melting away.


The buildings and architecture surrounding the park bore witness to the ingenuity of the human mind. The fountain revealed something more primal, the need for unseen things. 


The fountain was like a watering hole in the middle of the Serengeti Plain. The kind of place, when filled with water, draws all sorts of different animals. Unseen desires and needs bring most animals to water when overheating.


The water fountain in Washington Square drew the most incredibly diverse crowd. Tourists from all over the world would gather there to relax. Neighborhood children would jump and splash in the waters of the fountain. Performers would set-up a makeshift stage wherever they might find room and perform. In the corner of the park, deep in the shade of trees, old men sat playing chess or reading the newspaper.


The park was a hundred ring circus of activity. So whenever Peggy and I would go, our attention would turn to people watching. We could spend hours watching, in absolute fascination, the lives of people we did not know. As we watched people, we used to make-up stories about their unseen life. 


Regardless of nationality, economic level, gender or whatever category you could name, there were common experiences visible to even strangers. However, if you thought about it, each person had a hidden, unseen life. It always made me realize how much of our lives are invisible to the outside world. 


Washington Square Park gave people a public place to find a physical relief from the heat. All of that was visible, even to people not paying attention to the more profound things. However, it also made me wonder where do people go to find relief from the unseen things which wear on their soul? Where do they go to experience spiritual renewal? And, do they know they need it?

Click to read: 2 Corinthians 4:13 - 5:1

Reflection Questions:

  • When have you needed relief from an unseen physical condition?
  • Where did you go to find relief?
  • How often to you think of your spirit as having unseen needs?
  • Where do you go to tend to your spiritual needs? 

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