As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2, KJV)

Yesterday we completed the first full day of our New Hope Presbytery intercollegiate mission trip to Santa Fe. Coming from a rain-and-snow saturated place, where the rivers are swollen with muddy runoff, I am struck by the dryness of where we are. Obviously people have lived here for thousands of years and have adapted to the lack of water. I’m not sure if I can do it before the week is up!

Almost as soon as we arrived, our hosts began advising us to conserve water. Water is everything here, they said. If you have water, you’re set up for success.

And yet even with plenty of water in my bottle, I thirst.

I thirsted working on the Santa Fe Community Farm, as dry dirt found its way into my eyes, nose, and mouth. Back home, whenever we plant a garden I worry about mud and overgrown weeds.  I’m afraid gardening at home is not as much of a spiritual exercise as it could be.  The change of perspective to an arid environment helped me think a lot about the challenge of feeding everyone on the earth.

I also thirsted during our visit to Mass at the cathedral in Santa Fe, because I am not Catholic and therefore not admitted to communion. (I understand the reasoning behind this doctrine and practice, and have attended Mass several times before, but this time I was definitely aggrieved. I could almost taste the wine and could almost feel the refreshment I normally feel at the Lord’s table — but remained incomplete.)  I suppose our Christian communities will always be a little dry until we can work out our differences.

Finally, I experienced an emotional thirst for comfort and companionship. As I write, I’m already feeling more connected to my team members, but there is always an awkward dryness at the beginning of these trips. At the end we’ll most likely experience a deep well of our connectedness, both as humans and as disciples, but we can’t get there without working through the dry period of being strangers.

By the way, to accomplish all that we set out to do, we have divided into teams. I’m on team 2 but I hope to get some perspective from Team 1 as the week goes along.

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