What a flooded creek reminded me about the Church

Photo by Nicola Anderson on Unsplash

We had steady rainfall here last week, resulting in our little creeks and streams flooding their banks. I took advantage of one warm afternoon, despite the rain, to head to my favorite walking path that follows a medium-sized creek to check out the impact of the non-stop precipitation.

I would describe the rain as “drizzle” more than “pouring,” so I was shocked at how much the creek had risen. It was well over its banks, rushing and rising and poised to flood even the bridge I had crossed so many times without thought. The little serene creek had become a small and mighty river.

After documenting its rise on an Instagram story (because after all, if it wasn’t documented there, it didn’t happen), I headed back to my car, my raincoat pulled tight against the mist.

I have to emphasize again that the rain was light. It was steady, but not torrential by any means. At times it was even the type of rain that you might feel and not give it a second thought other than, “Was that a drop I felt? Is it raining?” Yet look what it did. A still little creek gained momentum, doubled or even tripled its width as it flooded its banks.

Where had all that water come from?

It was raindrops. Those little raindrops, almost unnoticeable individually, were now a dramatic – and even destructive—force. By the time I finished my mile walk back to my car, my coat was soaked. It was not the strength of the rain, but its persistence and consistence that made the impact.

Too often, we minimize our ability to work for change because we think of ourselves as just one person in a world of 7.5 billion. We look at our lives, commonplace and perhaps a little monotonous, and we doubt we can ever make a difference. The culture of death, relativism, and promiscuity seems louder and more powerful than our little, individual witness of life.

I am just a little raindrop.

Instead, we need to concentrate on that little, individual witness of life – on living our commonplace life to the fullest, and living out our daily lives with virtue, striving for holiness. We are just one raindrop. But if every Christian in this world lived their lives pursuing holiness – we would be a great and mighty river.

We needed that rain. Water is life-giving and vital to survival. But it can also be destructive. Watching the river carrying limbs and debris at an alarming speed, I was reminded of the violence and strength of water. If we submit to the culture, if we figure we’re just one raindrop and can do nothing to impact society, we are part of the cultural destruction that we should be standing against.

It’s time to stop doubting our power to change this world. We all have the power at our fingertips- the most powerful weapons for change imaginable: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. If every one of us was united in an effort to take back our lives, our families, our culture—to take back our world for God, we would be able to do it with His grace. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It’s not just your daily Holy Communion in isolation. It is your prayer united with the prayers of the Church. It’s not just your sacrifice to skip your second cup of coffee or not eat between meals. It’s your sacrifice united with those of the whole Church. It’s not just your volunteer work at the crisis pregnancy center or that ten dollar bill you slip anonymously in that struggling single mother’s purse at the grocery store. It’s your generosity united with the love and self-gift of the entire Church.

That is what has the power to change the world. With the ancient practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we are giving our work, our prayers, our lives back to God and allowing Him to work through us. Only He can change our lives, our families, and our world. But He wants to do it through us. And He wants us to do it together, as Church.

That rushing river was nothing more than many, many little raindrops. I can’t do it alone. But I can do it with you.

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About the Author

Joannie Watson

Joan Watson was born and raised in Lafayette, Indiana, but college and graduate school took her to Virginia, Ohio, and Rome. After graduating from Christendom College with a B.A. in History and Franciscan University with a M.A. in Theology, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to be part of the explosion of Catholic culture in the middle of the Bible Belt.

She has been blessed to work for Dr. Scott Hahn at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia at Aquinas College. She is presently the Director of Adult Formation for the Diocese of Nashville. She also serves as the Associate Editor of Integrated Catholic Life.

When she’s not testing the culinary exploits of new restaurants or catching up on the latest BBC miniseries, she’s FaceTiming with her eight nephews and nieces and enjoying her role as coolest aunt. She likes gelato, bourbon, and the color orange.

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