There once lived a man who carried a wooden bucket with him his entire life. This bucket was filled with water — living water, he called it. He would carefully ladle water from this bucket to drink when he was thirsty and he would scoop his hands into the water to splash his face when he was fatigued. Occasionally, he would use some of the water from his bucket to share with others and would even pour some of it out to water dry plants and fruit trees.
Mysteriously, the water never ran out. There always seemed to be enough. But still, it was heavy and the handle would cut into his hands. The splintered sides of the wooden bucket would rub against him and cut open his legs. Furthermore, the heavy bucket kept him from climbing up to the peaks of the nearby mountains and prevented him from blazing new trails — but he felt it was worth it because he had his living water.
One day he came upon a great cliff. He looked over its edge to discover that his long journey had brought him to the ocean. This was the first time he had ever seen the ocean and he was astounded! He couldn’t fathom its depth nor the breadth of its reach across the face of the earth.
And then it hit him.
The water contained in his bucket was only a tiny portion of all the water that was. It was just a sampling of what was infinitely more available and discoverable. Without thinking, he poured a small portion of water from his bucket of water out over the edge of the cliff. He watched as the wind transformed it into a mist and carried it gently down to become part of the pulsing sea. He couldn’t explain this impulse. Perhaps it only seemed appropriate that he should return a bit of the living water to its source. This act nearly moved him to tears and filled him with a sense of awe and grandeur. It felt sacramental. It felt like his way of acknowledging the sacredness of all water — not just the water in his particular bucket. He repeated the act over and over until the bucket was empty.