There was a little stream down a little hill from the apartment that my mom and I lived in around the 410 loop. It was a strange little stream. The concrete that was the stream bed told me that it was at least partially there because someone wanted it to be there and not all natural, but that didn't matter much to a curious two year old.
We only lived in San Antonio for a few months and I don't remember much of that time, but I do remember that stream, though, because I have always loved to play in the water.
(Every time that I hike over a running stream these days I want to immerse myself in it, feel the water surround me, be immersed in its purity and coldness. I guess I have always been drawn to it.)
I think that our apartment windows faced outward and down towards the stream. I was intrigued by the water and was drawn to it. In the heat of a San Antonio summer, few things are as attracting as cool, running water (even if it was just a trickle because the sun lapped most of it up) and I remember heading down the hill intent on getting drenched. That's exactly what I did...and I loved it!
While I was splashing and playing in my little south Texas oasis, my mom called out from up the hill. You know how it is, selective hearing and all, so I didn't hear her at first. Then she came closer and called out again, this time in a way I had to catch on: "Wes, get out of that water and come here now!" So, obediently, I did, but inwardly I was grumbling to myself, "What is the big deal?!"
Really, what was the big deal?
Years later, I was driving with a friend through San Antonio and decided to drive by that old apartment off of the 410 loop. We didn't stop and explore the area, but as we drove by I noticed something I hadn't noticed before: the stream wasn't what I had imagined.
Water was flowing just like I remembered, but it wasn't the water I remembered. It wasn't a concrete-lined stream that was built for precocious little boys to enjoy and create treasured summer memories. It was a drainage ditch that carried away rain water (and anything the rain water gathered) that the city wanted to direct to the sewer system. The water started off clean enough, but as it traveled to where I used to play it gathered all kinds of muck and sewage and trash and...who knows what else.
It wasn't meant for me. What looked like pleasure to me would only make me sick. I just couldn't see that before. It made me glad my mom called me out of the stream because I didn't know what I was doing...or better yet...I didn't know what it was doing to me.
Jeremiah 2:12–13: "Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD,
for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water."
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses