A cup of cold water

“If anyone gives even a cup of cold water in my name…that person will not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42

The last few days have witnessed 30 degree weather (or around 85 F) here in Brugge — very unusual and different from my home where I understand it has been brutally hot this summer. I had to cross town to lace school on what seemed like the hottest day of the summer. Usually a pleasant 35 minute walk across town, I did consent to walking on the shaded side of the cobblestone streets, stopping halfway for lunch and a rest. It was hot though and I was happy to arrive, sit in the lace classroom and drink water. The information I needed did not take long and after a short chat with a children’s lace teacher, I headed again to the hot streets to return to the convent. (I will be teaching young girls lace on my month home in America but that is for another post.) Now it was the heat of the afternoon, maybe not a good idea in retrospect; I am not young any more and I keep forgetting that!!! What I did easily at 22 years old does not come without a price now. In at least a small deference to the above, I did plan a route by the canal to a bench under the tree for a rest. I often feed mama duck and her babies here the remains of my lunches and also I can keep an eye on the riverboats/houseboats who dock there and change routinely. When I arrived at MY bench, it was occupied!! How dare they?!? On down the canal edge to another bench, where a youngish man living in one of the townhouses (all townhouses are attached in this medieval city) was bringing out his BBQ and portable chairs and table presumably for a BBQ along the canal later in the day. He took one look at me and queried, “Sister, would you like some water?” I had to admit I would, so he returned with a huge glass goblet of cold water with ice! I do not think I have even seen or been served an ice cube since I arrived. “Wow, ICE!” This reminded me of living in Paris, oh so many years ago. My roommate and I yearned for cold milk in 1965, so one day we went into our corner cafe walked to the bar and ordered milk. In 1965 Paris, this was a bit astonishing to the waiter. No one but babies and young children drank milk! I remember the look well. We did get our glass of milk but cold was not possible. Milk did not come cold in 1965 Paris. I do not know if it does now except by special request.

I reveled in my goblet of water and ice and drank every drop. I promised him prayers at Vespers to which I now had to hurry home. He advised walking the canal where there were many shade trees overhanging the path. I decided I must look worse than I thought but I followed his advice, stopping twice more on benches before arriving safe and sound in the monastery. “A cup of cold water in my name…” took on a whole new meaning! He received his prayers in Vespers.


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