Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Water, worry, everywhere...

It's raining in Charlotte at the moment. It has been unceasingly cloudy and unseasonably cool all day. I took the kids and two friends to the neighborhood pool earlier today; they insisted on going, even though it was raining off and on all morning. Kristiana and I sat on two towels with another two towels over our heads to keep from getting soaked by the cool rain. Daniel and his two friends frolicked in the pool, alone. Even the lifeguards had on sweatshirts. After about 40 minutes, one boy's teeth began to chatter and his lips turned a shade of blue usually reserved for the Carolina sky. They agreed that warm, dry clothes were more appropriate that cold and clammy swimming trunks.

Don't let my dismal description fool you - I love the fact that it's raining. We need lots of rain to make up for our severe deficit. Life-giving, life-sustaining, and potentially life-threatening water is liquid gold. Its power is rivaled by very little. Its soothing sounds lull us to sleep. Its roar awakens us. Its beauty draws us from the sand to the surf. Its strength drives us from surf to shelter. Yet for all its ferocity and destructive potentional, we absolutely cannot live without it.

It wasn't until we moved into our house in Norwalk in 1997 that I became aware of the precarious balance we walk in terms of rain, drought, and water levels. Everything I thought I knew about water changed once we became dependent on a private well. Suddenly I cared about the length of showers, the watering of the lawn, the need to add water to our constantly leaking swimming pool, and whether or not the faucets leaked. Many a night I lay in bed worrying about how many loads of laundry I could do the next day without taxing our water supply too severely.

I never know how much water was in our well at any time. Truthfully, I didn't even know where the well was located until just before we moved out and the inspector came to test it for the future buyers. However the fact that I had no idea where it was did not in any way diminish the fact that it was on my mind nearly every day. On a weekly basis, I had to backwash the system, make sure the salt talk was filled so that the water would be properly treated and softened. On a quarterly basis, I had to order 50 pound bags of salt from the Culligan man. Water was a constant concern for me.

I remember one particularly dry summer when I heard reports of people whose wells had run dry. They'd been forced to rent water trucks and ration the water until the water table rose again to useable levels. What if we ran out, I pondered? What if the underground water source were to become contaminated - what would we do then? How would we even know? Would the chlorinated, chemically-treated water in our swimming pool, the water that was constantly seeping out of some undetected hole in the liner, affect our well? What about the hundreds of pounds of fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide that ended up on our lawn and our neighbors' lawns? What if this? What if that?

All that worry.
All that fret.
And there was absolutely nothing I could do to control the rainfall, the water table, or whether or not the rain that fell onto our property would eventually wind up in our well.

The good news is that we never had a problem with our well. It never ran dry. We never suffered any inexplicable stomach ailments that could be blamed on water contamination. Several friends who came to our house commented that the water tasted good to them. I smiled and thanked the Lord for providing the water, the well, the salt, and the know-how to keep that antiquated system running.

Yet another lesson in the futility of worry.
Worry changes nothing but my blood pressure.
It doesn't make the rain fall.
It doesn't keep my children safer or healthier.
It doesn't resolve international crises or end starvation.
It doesn't keep airplanes in the sky or trains on their tracks.
In some ways, worry acts a lot like water, doesn't it? It drives its victims from one unsuitable shelter to another, wears us down - body and spirit, tears us away from the people and things we hold dear, and threatens our very lives. Unlike water, worry changes absolutely nothing it touches. In fact, worry does nothing but plague the worrier. And I, for one, am getting pretty sick of "the plague."

From Bobby McFerrin: "Don't worry; be happy."
From Australian lore: "No worries, mate."
From Matthew 6: "Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important that clothes? Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

So I ask myself - over and over and over - why worry?

No comments: