Please Let Me Drink
By: Rev. Maya Douglas
There are green stuffs growing behind the Burrow in the new development, Bri-anne told me not so long ago. This green stuff is called, callaloo, “what’s that”, she asked. “What’s that?!” “Yes, there are workers who are gathering them and wanted to know if wanted any. Do I want any?” “Guuurl, yes you do!” Callaloo is only the most delicious plant one can ever eat! I love callaloo! Normally I eat it for breakfast with salted codfish, dumplings and plantain, it’s similar to spinach but 10 times better. Which is why I can eat callaloo straight, steamed on its own. I told Bri-anne to go grab some.
We theorized that at some point some migrant workers planted callaloo. Ontario has the perfect weather conditions for it to yield several times in the summer, because it reminded them of home, or because sometimes, migrant workers don’t get enough to eat. (I’ve learned that it is pigweed here so, maybe our theories were wrong) Still, the same migrant workers whom Doug Ford says are crucial to our food supply are not always well taken care of. Callaloo is filling and full of iron, a perfect breakfast food indeed. Why not plant it? (Why not harvest it)
This Sunday’s Genesis reading shares the tale of how Abraham’s servant finds a wife for Isaac. He prays for a woman to come by, who will oblige with his request for a drink, who will offer to water his camels. And, before he finishes his prayer… Rebekah comes along! Rebekah and the servant are strangers to each other, the servant doesn’t even know her kin - he has to ask, “Whose daughter are you?” Now that’s a loaded question because if she had said Ishmael’s there would be an issue, but Rebekah is the daughter of Bethuel. She is a complete stranger, a daughter of a kinsman but she is not a direct family member. This will not be the last time a man meets a woman at a well. Jacob will meet Rachel this way, and so will Moses find Zipporah. The well is a place where strangers can meet and build relationships. Indeed, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well and that cheeky guy tells her “Give me a drink” (Jn 4).
I wonder - where is our well? For God in the most ordinary of times, encourages us to meet strangers, to build relationships but we are no longer draw water from wells. So how can we meet, where can we meet, especially in this pandemic time? We thirst for connection, for places to meet, but where? Do we even think that God intervenes in relationships? I think so. I have been your minister for three years as July 1st, and for a good portion of our time Bri-anne and I were meant to work together but did not always have the opportunity. I lamented that when I heard that she was leaving Living Presence Ministry and becoming the Region’s Social & Ecological Justice Minister. And then… whoosh… the Holy Spirit, I believe, inspired us to be more intentional about our ministries, about the time we’d spend together. And just like that a well, perhaps like Hagar’s well that was always there in front, a well - a meeting point emerged in front of us. In the last few months we have completed three projects outside of our working hours, while definitely touching on the work of the Regional and National church. Go figure. Like callaloo, once the seeds were planted even though circumstances had changed, the harvest was plentiful for those who could see and we did see.
The word “family” implies inclusion, my dear QHL family, If you are in a family, you are supposed to have a sense of belonging. (But) What about those who are on the outside of such a “family”? How can we as a community faith, find ways to prevent ourselves from excluding those who come along… be it new members, visitors… a new minister. A family is a unit of belonging, but it can be pretty exclusionary. Rebekah is not part of Abraham’s family but his servant, once he recognizes that, places a ring in her nose and a bracelet on her arm. The gifts don’t matter, the intention of welcoming does. QHL, no one will ever be one of you unless you allow them to be. Anyone who comes along, I know, will want to be accepted as part of your family even though at first they’ll be a stranger. It is God’s Way to welcome the stranger, to celebrate newness and union, to bless relationships… in the ordinary times, not only in the extraordinary times. Even as we pray for it, God makes it happen. Before our prayer has ended, God makes it happen.
God guides us to welcome and care for the stranger. The migrant workers who live under poor conditions and are contracting Covid-19 at exorbitant rates are the very strangers whom God welcomes and offers care. If only we would see, and act, tell our leaders this is not right. It’s not a new issue. We are reflecting on Genesis this summer because often when we say Old Testament, we’re implying that the journey within its books are over. The journey is obviously not. We need to find a well - a space to meet and care for each other. God guides us to welcome and care for the stranger. At the time I reflected on this message, 1 CDN dollar was 16 Mexican Pesos, or 102 JCN dollars. It is beneficial to work here picking our crops if you are coming from the Caribbean or Mexico, but at what cost? Not at the cost of one’s life. I love my Ontario strawberries, but at what cost? Not at the cost of someone’s life. The pandemic has placed a magnifying glass on those in society whom are found to be expendable… the disabled, the elderly, the racialized, the homeless… the migrant workers. These are the least whom Christ called us to love. In loving them, advocating for them, we are loving and advocating for Christ. So where is our well? Right here, my friends. The question is: “If asked - Please let me drink? - What would you do?” God guides us to welcome and care for the stranger… Like callaloo, let the seeds planted today bring forth a plentiful harvest for those who can hear, for those who can see. Let it be so? Amen.