I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily, he shall strike root like the forests of Lebanon. – Hosea 14:5 (NRSV)
I live in a wet, green land, where trees guzzle water from the ground like frat boys drinking beer from a keg in a movie. Therefore, I find dew to be mostly an annoyance. Pretty sometimes, sparkly on a spider web or whatever. Mostly, it means hollering at the kids to stay on the sidewalk as we leave for school so they don’t spend the day with their socks soaked to the ankles. I feel similarly afflicted when faced with some weird vending machine that gives change in dollar coins: so rich than I’m annoyed at having a heavy pocketful of cash.
Hosea’s here to remind me that there are beings in the world who live lives so perilous that dew can be the difference between life and death. A layer of it allows desert plants to breathe without having the lifewater sucked right out of them by murderously dry air. By evaporating, it cools them in death-dealing heat. Being absorbed by leaves, it waters them when there is nothing that roots can do.
This is the sermon Jesus preached a hundred times: God may be as big as the universe, but the way God shows up is almost always small. Only the rich need God to show up as geysers and floods and waterfalls.
Only the sated sneer at the dew. The thirsty allow themselves to be saved by it.
God, my belly may slosh, but we both know my life is desiccated plenty of other ways. Give me a small blessing, just a sprinkling. Just enough to save me, and turn me into a water-bearer in your garden. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Chaplain of the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell University. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.