In Bram Stoker’s Dracula one of the Count’s limitations is an inability to cross running water. I find this comforting and instructive. Comforting because I live on the coast of Oregon where water is running everywhere. Three forks of the Coquille River meet near Myrtle Point. Instructive because it affirms that spiritual stagnation opens the door to all kinds of evil.
Our best defense against spiritual vampires is to make sure the springs of joy and life in our heart have not stopped flowing. Boredom, ennui, and acedia are a few of the modern vampires that suck purpose and joy from us. These bloodsuckers attack people who are basically ponds—nothing flowing in and nothing flowing out.
An important part of river ecology is restoring and maintaining a healthy watershed. The same is true of the ecology of the soul. Our spiritual watershed is what creates the river of life that flows through us. All the spiritual disciplines are streams of grace that flow together: prayer, fasting, silence, meditation on God’s Word, worship. We must live at the confluence of grace where running water surrounds us and protects us from the greatest vampire of all, despair.
Of course, running water must not just flow into us but also out of us. Some flows back to God in praise and adoration. Vampires, I suspect, love darkness and moonless nights partly because it blinds them to the glory and beauty of God’s creation. They are blind as a bat to the splendor of sunrises and sunsets. We can keep our waters running by pouring out humble praise for every sip of water and crumb of garlic bread, the gleam of the sun on a spring leaf.
We also keep the water moving by pouring out grace and blessing to others. Certainly with our words, but also with humble service to others. The living water of God’s Spirit in us must touch those around us with the presence and power of God. This means we can’t withdraw from others and become a catchment of grace.
We should probably avoid being too metaphorical about vampires. Some vampires are people who suck life out of us. They never get enough because neediness has become the way they feed their hunger for relationship and significance. If we give to these people without having a strong flow of God’s life into our life, they can drain us spiritually. Sometimes we need to just toss them in the creek. We need running water.
Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else guard the springs of your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” When our waters grow stagnant and scummy, we are vulnerable to vampires. But the dance of water over, through, and around our life drives vampires away.
I am praying that God’s Spirit will flow and overflow in Myrtle Point as freely as the rains have flooded our creeks and rivers this winter. May we have the summer rains of God’s Spirit. We have too many vampires. May all our running waters be holy