Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Friday, March 17, 2017

High Waters (Flooding) 1895

Levitan often painted flood waters and high waters. This watery scene has the primeval feel we've seen before, where we're taken back to what seems to be the beginning of history, to the first days of God's creating.

Water is particularly important for Christians. We spend the first nine months of our lives in water. We pass through water to get born and then return to the water to be born from above in Baptism. In Baptism, we're flooded with Christ.

But while water gives life, it can also take life. We think of the terrible loss of life caused by the Japanese tsunami in 2016. For the Christian, water signifies the death of what is old in me: selfishness, resentment, indifference, pride...

Spring Flood Waters also calls to mind Psalm 69:1 - "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck." Another translation says, "For the waters are come in unto my soul." 

We can name those up-to-my-neck flood waters:
  • Up to my neck in debt.
  • Up to my neck in family troubles.
  • Up to my neck in health concerns.
  • Up to my neck in anxieties and doubts.

But then God says through the Prophet Isaiah 43:2 - "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you." That's consoling. Levitan seems to share that verse in picture form: notice the dark clouds are moving out swiftly, with a brighter sky behind. And there is a  wonderful play of light off the waters that have flooded the grassy inland.


  1. God is with us, in life and in death. I am deeply reflecting on this post. It is speaking to me on so many levels for I do feel like I am drowning from the pressures of life. I can't take a breath sometimes. But I have to look for God and remember that he is with us at all times. This water can save me.

    1. Maybe take this psalm 69 as your prayer. Prayer is bes when it comes from a felt place. You've already got that!

  2. This does remind me of the earth before time. When it was pure and pristine, not marred by our uncaring influence. I love this reminder to look at the bigger picture. That we miss the important details in the simple things.

    1. I am grieved that so many of the protections are being rolled back which safeguarded the water, the soil, the air, the plants and animals. Poor planet!