The water of life, depending on your point of view, could be a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm (Das Wasser des Lebens) or it could be referring to Scotch Whiskey. In the Middle Ages, whiskey distilling was carried out mainly by monks and believed to have medicinal properties – hence the term “water of life” – or uisge beatha in Gaelic.
Or for a Christian,Water Of Life can have an altogether different connotation; Jesus spoke of living water when he talked with the Samaritan woman at the well, saying “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10, NIV) Ok, so Jesus didn’t actually say the water of life, although he was happy to drink a glass of wine (whiskey had not been discovered then) but that is how I think of ‘The Water of Life’ so I wonder if other Christians do to.
It seems to me that water has many of the qualities and characteristics that we ascribe to the Holy Spirit, so I think that in the passage quoted Jesus might also have been alluding to the Holy Spirit. It can wash clean our hearts and minds, the way water washes physical dirt from us and the similarities by allusion or analogy, the way Jesus often made a point, does not stop there.
If we fill a bucket with water but then do nothing with it, it is useless. It cannot clean, irrigate or sustain anything. It will just sit there and slowly evaporate hour by hour, day by day until it is all gone. It is up to us to do something with the water to make it useful and in the same way it is up to us to do something, to be open to the holy spirit to do its work.
If we drink the water it sustains us, like the Holy Spirit sustains us if we let it fill us. If we offer someone a drink, then with the Spirit we can help sustain them, and if we splash it around it will shower on many people.
Water is pure, like the Holy Spirit, and clear, a gift from God, not man made indeed it cannot be made by man; extracted yes, refined yes, distilled yes but we cannot actually make it. What else is so natural and life giving that it could, or should, be used for Baptism. We ourselves are made largely of water.
Have you taken a shower lately?