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  • Katie Smith

Leading them to water

Drink. Go ahead take a sip; the water will keep you going. You NEED water. This is it. This is the best water you'll ever taste. Please. PLEEAAASE. Trust me. Watch I'm going to drink some too. It's wonderful, just drink some because this is the only source of real water we are going to get out here. Why are you not drinking it?

I can lead animals to water, but I cannot force them to drink. I know they are thirsty, but they are distracted by too many things. I know they will feel their dry throats after we've left the shoreline, and then we will be too far from any real source. Still they won't drink. If I literally push them off the bank, they may never trust me again. They will regard my efforts as unjust or unkind, even if a few sprinkles land on their tongues.

They rationalize their confident reasoning, but I only hear rejected excuses. The water is contaminated. A ferocious wolf or deadly scorpion hounds the water's edge, waiting for a chance to attack. The water will not satisfy them like one down the road. They feel sick. They are not even thirsty.

Some of these excuses have their basis in reality. Terror awaits them at every corner--sickness, threats, temptations, but because they do not trust, they lack faith. Thus, they cannot believe any real truth. Because they cannot believe in faith, they convince themselves their thirst does not exist.

My heart aches knowing at some point the thirst will overtake them like the plague. I know this because I've felt so thirsty I wanted to die. It was an unquenchable thirst that made every part of my life a desert. Once I sipped from that river though, I wasn't simply satisfied, I was sustained and secure to walk a million miles through those dark woods.

I keep trying to lead them, those little animals of mine, but it is up to them to take a sip. Whether it's trying to convince them to eat new foods, take a good nap, work a little harder, or face an old fear, I forget that my persuasive habits don't measure like marketing gimmicks. I must stop pleading and start positioning.

I was brought by that riverbed by others, but I didn't understand the draw. There was all kinds of crystal clear liquid around every bend. I tasted from them all often to appease my guides, but guides can't change minds, let alone souls. I'm not the trailblazer, nor am I the gate-keeper through which deep understanding occurs. I'm simply a shepherd.

My sheep, or puppies, may see all sorts of water on our hike, but it's only that holy water that can change them so they never grow thirsty again. I hope and pray they'll fearlessly sip from that river, but I must let go of trying to convince them with my words. It tires us all to the point of exhaustion. Instead, I need only take tiny sips in order to remind myself that there are other guides and one perfect gatekeeper. Then I fully enjoy my own trail hike.

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