As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. – Psalm 42:1-2 (NRSV)
The chorus of a popular Spanish carol, “Los Pesces en el Rio,” goes like this:
“The fishes in the river are jumping and dancing,
jumping and dancing because God is born!”
Hispanic Catholics of northern New Mexico sing this carol differently. Perhaps elsewhere the fishes in the river “jump and dance” at the birth of Christ, but in the high desert, the fishes drink – and drink and drink:
“Beben y beben y vuelven a beber.
Los peces en el río por ver a Dios nacer.”
(They drink and they drink, and they return to drink.
The fishes in the river, to see God being born.)
Years ago when members of Santa Maria de la Paz Catholic Community taught our UCC congregation “Los Pesces,” they acknowledged there were many versions of the song, but in this high desert, they knew you have to drink before you can dance.
Whoever wrote Psalm 42 knew such thirst. As a deer yearns for flowing streams, the psalmist’s soul longs for the living God. They remember being in the midst of great celebrations, but now that joy is dried up. The psalmist thirsts for God’s life-giving waters.
Dry times aren’t limited to physical deserts or summer seasons. A week before Christmas, we may know the psalmist’s thirst, even if it’s snowing outside. We may feel their loneliness as we too remember more abundant times. If that’s true for you, take time to drink deeply from the wisdom of the psalm and the carol. Like los pesces, drink and drink and return to drink, en el rio de amor de Dios, in the river of God’s love.
Thank you, God, for your deep love in this season and every season. Help us to drink deeply. Amen.
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Parts 1 and 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.