How Do You Plant a Student by Streams of Water?
I stand silently near the corner of a third-floor foyer, staring aimlessly out the window. It’s early in the week, only Tuesday, but already my heart is heavy, my mind is overworked, and my body is wearied—I’m fatigued in spirit. I’m praying for peace, for some semblance of sanity in the chaos that is a September Tuesday during the pandemic. The mask over my mouth hides my frown, but my eyes surely betray my despondency. Consequently, I avert my eyes from potential human contact by staring out the third-floor window.
My eyes take in the familiar scene of Lake Honor, the man-made pond, the floating swan house, and the fountain spewing droplets of water. The scene is too familiar despite the different angle from which I view it. I look straight ahead, tracing the branches of a tree to its trunk, and its trunk down to its foundation. The tree rests deep in the earth beside several like it, all lining the edges of a small stream. My mind begins to calm as I watch the water crawl delicately between the banks, sliding smoothly over the stones. I can hear in my mind the soft sounds of water brushing gently against rock, tumbling gracefully to the pool below, sending ripple upon ripple in a seemingly endless expansion to the ends of the earth.
As I gaze intently at the water, my eyes again focus on the tress. It is in this moment that the stream grows silent and the Spirit starts speaking: “He is like a tree, planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:3). Like the Psalm, the trees in my view find their nourishment in the stream along which they are planted.
My mind returns to my initial prayer for peace, to the motivation for my seclusion in the first place. That morning, by 8:45am, I had already been moved to despair by conversations with students that manifested a focus on worldly pleasures and concerns above the things of God. As I stand silent and immobile by the window, the speaking, moving Spirit prompts me to ask: “How do I plant a student by streams of water?”
I’ve returned to that window several times since, asking the same question and praying the same prayer, hoping soon that same Spirit may graciously grant me an answer.