Wilbur was one of three retired men who gathered in the kitchen of the 150-year-old Parish House. It was there that they would count the offerings collected from Sunday. They were good men and they loved each other, but when they would talk about their accomplishments in earlier years, Wilbur didn't say much.
One day, I walked into the kitchen from my study off the living room and asked Wilbur what he was proud of. He sat up straight, and with a strong voice declared, "I have the best water in all of New Jersey." The leader of the counting crew could not accept that. "My water is every bit as good as yours, Wilbur."
"No," Wilbur defended himself, "I have the best water. Even the water inspector says that."
"I am going to have to visit you, Wilbur," I said, "and have a drink of your water."
The next day his wife called and invited me to dinner. The road to their former hired hand's house was unpaved and full of ruts. The narrow bridge over the creek was a challenge. The main farmhouse was nestled at the foot of Schoolley's Mountain. Out of the base of the mountain was a spring. The water was channeled to a settling pond and then piped to both houses.
I took the old tin can cup, hanging from a wire hook and placed it under the gentle steam. It was clear and cool and easily the best water that I had ever tasted. I have never forgotten Wilbur and his water. He was right. He had the greatest treasure of the three men.
I now have a new appreciation of the prophet's song, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."
Isaiah 12:2-6 (NRSV)
2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
4 And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.