Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Water water everywhere

About an hour ago, I was seated at our dining room table working on a project. My daughter came in from babysitting and informed me that a fire hydrant just up the street from us was on. Gushing water. There was a truck there with workers doing something or other, and water was running down the street. She declared that she was going to walk up and wet her feet in the water.

Immediately, I closed my computer, abandoned my project, and joined her and our teeny tiny dog on a wet adventure. I was the first one out of my flip flops, and I plunged my feet into the narrow stream. Perfection. I dropped my head back and laughed out loud.

How many times have I read and heard about the importance of allowing my feet to touch the earth, the grass, and the dirt? To be fully grounded on this planet of ours? Well, I'm not doing that. Not with all the ants making anthills in the grass and all the chemicals that are spread all over our lawns. (Please forgive us, Lord, for the myriad ways in which we poison the very earth beneath our feet.)

This afternoon, I put my feet in that water and I kicked it up on the lawn of the house we were standing in front of. I splashed it onto my dog - who was obviously as happy to be wet as my daughter and I were. All the people who drove past us smiled broadly at us. I bet they were jealous of how much fun we were having. A couple walked past with their dog and told us that it looked like we were having fun. But they didn't take off their shoes. They didn't step into the magnificence of that abundant flow. Too bad for them.

I worry about water. Drought. Flooding. Melting glaciers. Rising sea levels. Busted pipes. Aging water heaters.
And what about the residents of Flint, Michigan? Subjected to some politician's bad idea about how to save money by getting water from a different river. Complaints were lodged for months. None were taken seriously. Bottled water. Filtered water. What about people who can light their water on fire because of fracking and other industrial experiments that use unwitting citizens as their canaries, their guinea pigs?
What does it feel like to be afraid of your tap water?
Water water everywhere. Except when there isn't any water anywhere.
Or the water you have access to is too dangerous to drink.

Earlier this summer, I went on a silent retreat. My third visit to The Jesuit Center.
I should write about those eight blissful, tearful, beautiful, wonder-filled days of prayer and journaling.
Anyway, there were two women on the retreat who, when they brushed their teeth,

The first time, I chalked it up as a fluke, convinced that she was the only person in the nation who practiced such a wantonly wasteful habit.
The second time, I nearly screamed.
Different woman. Different age bracket. Different race. Same horrendous act of excess.
I was grateful that we were in silence, or I might have said something mean and insulting.
I was incredulous that there are still people who let the water run,
waste that precious life-sustaining resource while they brush their teeth.

After the second sighting, I took a few deep breaths and asked myself, "Why do you think you saw this twice, Gail? What are you supposed to learn from this double take?"
Almost immediately it came to me: Abundance. Provision. I have been blessed with so much in my life. Beyond all my imagining and dreams. Even though I can be so frugal, with money, with water, with food, with my love - there is abundance all around me. Be grateful, Gail. Give thanks.

Thankfully, I didn't see either of those two women or any one else repeat their water wasting offense.

Today, standing in that water, I thought about the drought we have been experiencing here in the South. I thought about wildfires out west. I thought about people all over the world who would have been incredulous at the intentional, unrestrained release of that liquid gold, from the fire hydrant directly to the gutter. For a split second, I asked God to forgive us for airing out the water line or rebuilding the pressure or whatever else the workers were doing. And then I went back to splashing water and waving at my jealous neighbors.

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