Growing up in a city, , Moose Jaw, I never really had to think about water. If you needed water, you could just turn on the tap, turn on the hose, or flush the toilet. Even though where I lived was quite arid- Moose Jaw averaged less than 400 mms. of precipitation a year- water was plentiful.
However, for a few summers when I was growing up, we had a cottage at the local lake. The first few years we did not have running water in that cottage. That meant that twice a day, we had to go to the local well, two hundred metres away, and fill up jugs of water to bring back to the cabin. It certainly put a perspective of how precious water was and how we should not waste any water. Simple things like having a warm shower or washing the dishes was not an easy chore.
Go ahead a few years to when I was a student minister in ranching country. Again we did not get a lot of precipitation there, about the same as my home town. But like my home town water was plentiful. You turned on the tap and it was there. However there was just one problem. The hot water tank of the house I rented did not work. So to have a bath, one needed to heat up water on the stove in order to have a bath. It was a long arduous process. So I learned to appreciate the value of water that summer as well.
Ever since then, I have lived in areas with much more precipitation. I went to seminary in Vancouver, which is in the middle of a temperate rain forest. Some winters, it seems that the rain will never stop. My first church placement was in a town that received twice the precipitation of Moose Jaw and there were large lakes all around the town. Toronto where I lived for many years rarely suffers drought and sits on one of the largest lakes in the world. But I still remember days that I spent in my life when water was a precious commodity.
Of course many in our world have never been blessed with an abundance of water. Millions in Africa have to walk kilometres every day to find fresh water to drink. People in Flint, Michigan have not been able to drink water out of the tap because it is so polluted even though they live in the richest country in the world. Millions in South American can not drink local water because it has been poisoned by the local mining industry. Hundreds of millions know the value of water each day, because safe drinking water is not a given.
Farmers in Australia right now definitely know the power of water. 100% of the state of New South Wales is under severe drought conditions. Some areas of the state have not had a significant rainfall for over two years. Crops are dying in the field and forests are a tinderbox just waiting for a spark. Water has become a key issue for all of Australia.
And yet here we sit in the city where water seems plentiful. The gardens might look dry, but people still freely wash their cars and take long showers. I know that I can still go to the tap and get a refreshing drink. The drought will soon effect fruit and product prices. Maybe then, will we truly understand the value of water.
This gets me to think about the many gifts we are given in life each day that we ignore. The sun rises each day. Temperatures are generally temperate or we have learned to adapt. There is enough food to feed the world- we just need to share it better. Unless of course you are hungry, thirsty, or in need of shelter, we forget these things. As we turn on the taps each morning for our showers may we think about that. When we let the hose run needlessly may we think of the farmers who are suffering. As we let the tap run, may we suddenly stop and think what a miracle water is and how it should not be wasted. Blessings