The Netherlands is a country of canals. It can be absolutely mind boggling; think of a map of Central Manhattan and imagine that all of the alleys and avenues and boulevards had canals running alongside them, and you’d have a fair impression of Amsterdam. The countryside is crisscrossed by canals as well. For the most part, the canals were dug to drain water away from low-lying land, so that the fields would be dry enough to farm or build on.
In addition to all of the canals, the Dutch also built countless dikes, to hold back the waters and provide more safely usable land. These areas of reclaimed land are called polders, and they are some of the most fertile pieces of property available. They are comprised of the silt and sediment of tens of thousands of years, not all that different than the delta lands of the Mississippi or the Nile.
But these polders are incredibly fragile: the country is constantly at war with the water that surrounds and floods it. Canals and dikes need to be tended, otherwise the waters will rush back in and assert their dominance of the once reclaimed land.
So often in our lives, the times and places that are most fertile, most sustaining, most fulfilling, are also the ones that require the most care and attention. Summer is upon us, a time when many of us will make time for rest and recreation and relaxation. But, if we are not careful, these next three months can speed by, and we can easily find ourselves in September without once having gone to the beach, or cooked out with friends, or made the time to sit out on a Summer evening and breathe in the scent of honeysuckle.
May this Summer be a time of joy for each of you. May you find the time to do the things that nourish your spirits. And may you offer the same care and attention to the upkeep of your soul that the Dutch bring to their canals.
- Pastor Jon