Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” John 4:7
Water. You could say it’s one of many buzzwords making the rounds these days. Wash your hands. Drink lots of water. Wash things often. We are drowning in all things water!
We’re also drowning in COVID-19 corona virus news. One piece of advice I’ve seen posted everywhere on social media recommends gargling with salt water to prevent the virus’ germs from sitting dangerously in your throat. No, this isn’t a corona virus blog, so stay with me.
In support of this, I recently received a text from a wise and trusted friend with this tip and several others that reportedly came from a Stanford Hospital Board internal message. In the message, I read we should all make sure our mouths and throats are moist and never dry and we should be taking sips of water at least every 15 minutes. This, it said, is because drinking water and other liquids may wash the virus down our throats and into our stomachs, where stomach acid will kill the virus. If you don’t drink enough water, it warned, the virus can enter your windpipe and then your lungs, which is very dangerous. It also went on to say drinking warm water is more effective and to not drink liquids with ice.
All this made me curious so I checked it out. Although most sites claim there’s no evidence that the gargling trick can help ward off COVID-19, I’m of the thinking it probably couldn’t hurt and drinking lots of water is always recommended, right?
How water can and is proven to help is by using it to wash your hands! That’s been the key mantra during this whole corona crisis but how distressing is it that it’s something we should have all been doing this whole time? We all know the drill and yet sadly it takes a crisis to convince the masses.
When I read today’s gospel I couldn’t help but think “timely” and “prophetic” as it dealt with water. Today’s reading from John is what many of us know as “The woman at the well.” In short, Jesus comes across a Samaritan woman at a water well and asks her for a drink, which shocks the woman as Jews at that time would never approach a Samaritan. In the end, the woman walks away believing that Jesus is the living water and whoever drinks the water will never thirst.
We are all thirsting right now, whether it be for COVID-19 to become a thing of the past as quickly as it became our present or other woes and hopes that have nothing to do with today’s current events. Science teaches us that without water, life is not possible. The church teaches us that through the saving waters of Baptism we are reborn and every time we enter a Catholic church, we bless ourselves with healing holy water. The Bible too is full of water references in addition to the one in today’s gospel, including Jesus walking on water, the parting of the Red Sea, Moses striking the rock and water springing from it, the turning of water into wine, the washing of feet, many stories of fishing and fishermen, and even Noah and Jonah, among many, many others.
Water is indeed spiritually beneficial but also physically beneficial. Staying hydrated is healthy and smart yet many of us don’t drink enough fluids each day. Think about this: adult human bodies are around 60 percent water, our blood is 90 percent water, and more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. In other words, water is a big deal!
I personally know just how “big” water is as my daughter makes a living in the water industry. We are a family that’s awash in all things water and value it perhaps more than many. But, we should all value water, as all human cells and organs need it to function properly. Niagara Water might be what she sells, but the other Niagara, as in Niagara Falls, has quite a bit of power itself. The Falls aren’t just spectacular to look at and popular tourist destinations; they are real power powerhouses, providing electricity to much of New York State and parts of Canada, including enough power for nearly 4 million homes. So yes, water is powerful and the benefits of it are oh-so-big as well, including:
- It lubricates our joints. Cartilage contains around 80 percent water and long-term dehydration reduces the joints’ shock-absorbing ability, leading to joint pain.
- By drinking water instead of sugary drinks, we can prevent tooth decay.
- It boosts skin health, which when dehydrated, can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.
- It cushions the brain and if dehydrated, our brain structure and functioning abilities are affected. Prolonged dehydration can lead to problems with thinking and reasoning.
- It regulates our body temperature through sweat as we heat up and it evaporates to cool us down, all beneficial during exercise.
- Our digestive system depends on it and the bowel needs it to work properly. If you don’t drink enough water, you may suffer from digestive problems, constipation, an acidic stomach, heartburn, and stomach ulcers. It goes without saying that water is needed to flush out urine and feces.
- Our lungs and airways need it as water loss can worsen asthma and allergies.
- It helps maintain a healthy blood pressure and a lack of it can cause the blood to become thicker, resulting in increased blood pressure.
- It makes minerals and nutrients dissolve faster and better, thereby reaching the parts of our bodies they are intended to benefit.
- It prevents kidney damage as kidneys regulate fluid in the body. Insufficient water can lead to kidney stones and other problems.
- It is beneficial in weight loss by preventing overeating and creating a sense of fullness.
So, there’s the 411 on the bodily benefits of water, but what great imagery water provides the mind and spirit as well. Close your eyes and imagine ocean waves crashing on shore, rain hitting the roof, or the gurgling of a river or stream. And how refreshing it is to take a dip into a pool, lake, or ocean? I also can’t help but think of my annual “Polar Plunge” on New Year’s Day. The wetness we feel is so invigorating but ultimately we do dry off.
Sometimes our hearts run dry as well, so maybe while we’re all taking more time to wash our hands, we should also take more time to drink in faith and let it overflow into this crazy and chaotic world. Sounds like a refreshing idea to me.