Earlier in the Gospel this week, Jesus prayed that we be consecrated. How is that we get to be consecrated?
One of my first times coming to the village Chontal in Ecuador, I stayed in a family house that also serves as a hotel. Every day, you can hear the sound of a river in the background. So, one day I asked one of the daughters of the house, “How can I go down to the river?” She said, “The main river? Oh, you don’t want to go there, it’s really dirty. It comes from Quito. You want to go to the river with the clean water. For that, you have to leave the community, walk a couple hundred yards until you get to the bridge, then on the right side there is a secret entrance, just before the bridge. Go down there, and you’ll reach the river with clean water.”
So, I did it. I left the community, I walked until I got to the bridge, then I hooked the right and found the river. It was the cleanest water I had ever seen in a river. People bathe in it, they wash their clothes in it. You can even drink it.
About every week or so, I leave the place I’m in here in Ecuador and I go to a community called Agnus Dei. Now, to get there, you have to leave the city of Santo Domingo, and travel along a dirt road. Most of the taxi drivers know that part, because that puts you at the local seminary. But I’ve taken many a taxi driver on their first trip to Agnus Dei, which is the next secret right that you take once you get to the seminary. You got downhill, left and right, on a bumpy, rocky path for about 5 minutes. And then you are there. Land of Peace, it’s called. An enclosed little community of about 7 people, with huts and a big chapel with perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. Complete silence, peace, beautiful nature. And the sound of a little stream. The other day, one of the community members asked me, “Have you seen our stream?” No. “Come and see.” So, he showed me this pure, clean stream and a little waterfall a little more than the height of a person, where you could bathe. “I shower here every now and then, it’s awesome.” I mentioned how pure the water is. “We drink the water. We add a touch of ozone, but other than that … that’s our water supply. It comes from a fountain up higher on the hill.”
Agnus Dei is a great place to come to for clean water. It’s a great place to pray and be alone with God. But you have to leave everything else behind to come. If you want to be consecrated.
Jesus in the Gospel says that we are not of the world. Our home is in heaven. That means that it’s part of the truth of who we are – it’s built into us – to leave everything else behind every now and then and be alone with God. It’s part of the truth of who we are to leave behind the loud, dirty water and come to the hidden, clean water. Whether it’s for an hour a day, or a day a month, or however we each are called, we all have it built into us to leave everything behind and be at our true home here.
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.” (Jn 17:15-17)