The Saga of the Stinky Swamp
by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
There is a pond in the backyard at Caring Counseling Ministries. The first time I viewed the property, the pond was serene and lovely, and it had a little boat dock. I envisioned children fishing off the shore with cane poles, and I was ready to make an offer. Less than a month later, we were signing papers, and I had my Pond of Tranquility. I vaguely remember the former owner talking about a bag of herbicide for the pond she’d left in the garage, but in all the excitement of closing, I didn’t give it much thought.
Things started off great. When the property was being converted to offices, my contractor would tell me stories of deer coming to drink from the pond. He even sent me pictures. When we moved in, I pulled rank and took the office overlooking the pond (it also has its own bathroom. I call it the El Presidente Suite). I positioned my furniture so I could gaze out at my little Pond of Tranquility during counseling sessions. Sure enough, the deer came, and all was right with the world. For about six months.
Once the weather started getting hot, algae began to grow. I would sit each day and watch in horror as the green yuk spread over my little Pond of Tranquility, turning it into a Swamp of Despair. Deer didn’t come to drink out of it anymore, but the mosquitoes liked it. A lot. It also began to stink.
What I didn’t know when I bought the property was a stagnant body of water has to be maintained. It won’t just take care of itself. My husband said I needed an aerator, but I was too cheap and decided to use the herbicide the previous owner had left. It worked…sort of. But without constant treatment, the yuk quickly returned.
The past year has been an ongoing wrestling match of chemicals and pond dye. The algae have now turned my pond a uniform color of moss. It thinks it’s won, but I have decided to take my husbands advice and add an aerator. The only real solution is to add a source of living water to keep the yuk away.
As always, God has used a struggle to teach me a lesson about Him. In the Bible, Jesus refers to Himself as Living Water. He says when we drink of Him, He becomes a wellspring of living water inside us and satisfies our deepest yearnings. Without that source of living water, we are stagnant ponds prone to filling with yuk. Jesus is our internal aerator.
My pond can look serene and lovely if I fill it with enough chemicals. But I shudder to think of the area wildlife drinking from that kind of a chemical waste dump. It’s the same with us. We can fill ourselves with things that make us think we are okay. We can add alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, careers, even people, to try to keep the yuk at bay. But we are only okay as long as we are dumping stuff in, because deep inside we are a stagnant pond in need of a source of living water.
I now understand why people with ponds put a fountain in the middle. I used to think that was just a fancy design feature. I now realize the fountain is working as an aerator, which in turn keeps the pond alive and healthy. Jesus is our fountain, and without Him, we have no true source of life.
If you don’t believe me, you are welcome to come out back at our agency and take a look at what happens to a pond without a source of life. Make sure you bring plenty of mosquito repellent because it’s growing a whole new ecosystem out there. Scary critters are drawn to stagnant ponds, but that’s an article for another day. Until then, make sure you drink your living water if you don’t want to become yucky, mucky, and stinky.