Ann Farabee column: The waters

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 14, 2022

By Ann Farabee

Reu-ben! Jacob most likely called out that name often, as he attempted to be a good father to the son he described as being unstable as water. That was definitely not a compliment.

As for water, when I am around children, “Don’t spill it!” may be one of my most frequent commands, as the water sloshes around in the cup they are holding.

Water is unstable, colorless, odorless and tasteless, which sounds quite dull, but water is the basis of the fluids of living organisms.

It forms the seas, lakes and rivers, and we need water in order to survive.

‘Unstable as water’ can mean turbulent, uncontrollable, raging or undisciplined. Apparently, Reuben had reason to not be the family favorite!

Whew! Thankfully, none of us would ever act like Reuben. We would never be as unstable as water. We are mature human beings. We would never be turbulent, uncontrollable, raging or undisciplined.


“Unstable as water” reminds me of those horrid waterslides. I mean — those fun waterslides. I would trudge up steps to the top of a steep hill, dragging a heavy mat behind me.

I would situate myself perfectly on the mat, attempting the mental preparation for the forthcoming slide. I would attempt to physically prepare myself for the upcoming journey.

Inevitably, someone would push me forward while I was still preparing myself, and down the hill of water I would go.

As a result, every waterslide venture I took ended up with high expectations that turned into slight injuries, as I swerved from side to side, while completely out of control.

Turbulent waters always overtook me. Raging waters always turned me around in circles. I would cling desperately to my mat, while attempting to control it. Many times, my mat arrived at my destination before I did.

Yes, sometimes, I may have used wayward, resistant, headstrong, non-compliant methods of arriving safely in the pool of water at the bottom of the hill. That resulted from ignoring the suggestions from the one at the top of the hill who started me on my journey.

I thought I could figure it out on my own. There had been no need to follow instructions, had there? But, somehow, I always managed to lose my mat, while gaining bumps and bruises.

Turbulent, uncontrollable, raging, and undisciplined waters of life? Sounds like us at times, doesn’t it? We can make it on our own, right?


Following instructions from the one at the top of the hill who knows everything about our journey ahead is not necessary, right?


Genesis 1:2 tells us that the spirit of God hovers over the waters. Isaiah 43:2 tells us that when we pass through the waters, God will be with us. John 5:30 tells us that on our own, we can do nothing.

Yes, Reuben. Just like you, we can all be as unstable as water. But God is with us and hovers over us. That is a promise we can cling to.

Ann Farabee is a teacher, writer and speaker. Contact her at or

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