By Emelia Attridge


When the poor and needy seek water,

and there is none,

and their tongue is parched with thirst,

I the Lord will answer them,

I the God of Israel will not forsake them.


I will open rivers on the bare heights,

and fountains in the midst of the valleys;

I will make the wilderness a pool of water,

and the dry land springs of water.

Isaiah 41:17-18 (NRSV)


When I was in college, my campus ministry created an Advent devotional each year with contributions from students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Each November, I signed up, was assigned a date with the scripture from the lectionary, and was asked to reflect on that scripture in whatever medium I chose—poetry, prose, music, photography. I always created a painting. Last year I emailed the campus ministry to see if I could participate in this annual reflection again. I was assigned a date that included this passage from Isaiah.

This painting became the product of my reflection and devotion. I found in it—only I completed the painting—layers of my own faith and connections to the Advent story.

In it was the living water—water that rushes forth, nourishes, creates, and reflects. I also discovered the womb of Mary. For me, the Advent story is wrapped up in Mary’s journey, Mary’s faith, her challenges, her struggles, and her life as a young woman in poverty in ancient Palestine.  I still don’t know what this painting captivates in me—or the process of painting it—but in it I find the inspiration, the struggle, and the nourishment of Mary’s story.

What is this Advent creating in you?