Insight From Isaac (And His “Sacred” Water Bowl)

Insight From Isaac (And His “Sacred” Water Bowl)

Lightning and thunder made for a wet Tuesday morning in the delta, and my dog, Isaac, was pouting for two reasons.

1. Bad weather scares him.
2. I had to leave him alone at home during that bad weather

Like any good pet parent, I prepared for these unfortunate circumstances. I wrapped him in a snazzy, gray “thunder shirt” that makes him feel snuggled in storms. I turned on the television to reruns of Law & Order to drown out the noise. No matter what I did, when I walked out the door, Isaac gave me a look that said, “How dare you go to a required clergy meeting on a rainy day? Doesn’t your district superintendent know that I need a playmate this morning?”

Thankfully, Isaac made it through the bad weather solo, and I survived a morning of meeting with fellow preachers. To reward Isaac for his good, brave behavior, I brought him to my office for the afternoon.

When we got to the church office, we were both wet from the steady rain, and I had lots of paperwork to unload. I wiped him off with a towel and began organizing the papers in my purse. I heard a slurping sound and looked up to see Isaac licking a jug of water near my coffee pot.

Oops. I’d forgotten to give the thirsty dog a drink of water!

Rain was pouring down, and Isaac’s bowl was in the car. I sighed. After being in an out of the rain all morning, I felt like I’d already had four showers, and I didn’t care to take a fifth. I looked around the office for something to use as a water bowl. My favorite coffee mug? Um, no. I love Isaac, but we don’t share dishes.

There’s a shelf in the office filled with my “sacred” pieces, vessels for our two sacraments of Holy Communion and Baptism. It includes chalices and patents, white linen cloths, a travel set for Communion, and a ceramic shell used for baptism. One of my mentors had given me the baptismal shell when I was ordained. When I baptize someone, I dip the shell in consecrated water and pour from the shell onto the new member’s head. It’s one of my favorite, “holy” pieces.

It’s also the size of a dog’s small water bowl.

I love formal worship, and when it comes to the sacraments, I can be a bit “high church.” Some of my friends even joke with me about when I’m going to become an Episcopalian! Would I be breaking some kind of rule to use a “sacred” piece to quench my dog’s thirst?

He licked his lips and leaned his nose towards the shell. I picked up the jug of water, poured into the shell, and set it on the floor. Isaac lapped plain water from a holy bowl in a few seconds, then nudged the jug for more. Of course, I obliged.

In the final chapters of Exodus, the author carefully details the furnishings of the tabernacle. From lamp stands to bronze cherubim, every object is holy, also defined as “set apart for a purpose.” The furnishings of our worship spaces today also carry sacred meaning, just like my shell. We are not called to idolize the object but rather to regard with holy fear the One represented in that vessel.

Such vessels also remind us that we are God’s instruments. We are set apart for purposes, too, and we need to walk in righteousness. Part of our calling is to share the “water of Life” with one another. God desires that we give a drink of cold water to the “Isaacs” among us who are thirsty for God’s love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us be holy without being “holier than thou,” and set apart without being islands. Let us quench each other’s thirsts as we live in awe of eternal life. And for any of you who wish to be baptized at St. Luke or Shipman Chapel, I promise to wash the shell first.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

Read more from Darian Duckworth at her blog.

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