Today, March 25, the day after Palm Sunday is a part of Holy Week. We are in the final week of our journey with Jesus to the cross and his glorious resurrection. "I am thirsty" said Jesus as he hung on the cross and so I want to reflect on water.
Just a few days ago, March 22, was the United Nations' 20th annual World Water Day. Every year on 03/22, international cooperation in the area of water energy savings, water energy saving projects, and increasing awareness of millions around the world without access to water are highlighted. Amy Sinatra Ayres has written On World Water Day, a Look at Energy Projects Saving Water and Energy in the National Geographic, 2013, if you would like to learn more. I was very pleased to see that Southern California Edison and the Darden Restaurants (owner of Yard House, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and similar other chains) were two of the companies with note-worthy water energy saving projects this year.
I became aware of water scarcity when I was quite young. There were a few summers of severe water shortages in Madras (now called Chennai). Then, the government run Metropolitan Water Supply Board lines failed to deliver water. At our home, we weren't really affected as we just continued to use our own private well and underground "sump" (water storage tank). I do recall seeing long, long lines of people snaking across many streets, waiting with vessels to collect rationed water (about 4-5 gallons per household); street fights would erupt often as some householders brought larger than normal containers or tried to jump the lines. The water was brought to each neighborhood by the Metropolitan's "water lorries." Clearly many were suffering, but I didn't experience any personal hardship and so the scarcity hardly made any impact on me. It reinforced, however, my early upbringing in not wasting anything, even a seemingly abundant and freely available resource such as water. A few years ago I learned that Chennai, suffering a chronic water shortage for decades now, has implemented an innovative solution. Swaminathan Natarajan provides details in Innovative India Water Plant Opens in Madras, BBC News 2010.
The study of water and the vast literature on it fascinated me when I became a researcher for a geo-referenced digital library. Water "cuts," water rules such as no watering of lawns, for example, and tiered water pricing all added to my education. My family and I became convicted about water conservation. Water is not just a precious resource, it is another life-giving gift God has given us.
Feeling led, I began to explore how to live biblically with regard to our use of water. We were pretty water-energy savvy inside the home but not in our garden. I began to grow vegetables, fruits, herbs, natives, and drought-tolerant plants transforming a garden that had been purely ornamental. Then, we installed a weather-controlled irrigation system. Last year, thanks to IRWD's Turf Removal Rebate program (Remove Grass, Get Cash), we converted our backyard lawn into permeable ground. It takes about 5600 gallons of water per month to irrigate a 1000 square foot lawn and all the runoff is bad not only for the land but it affects water quality as well. Life depends on water, water gives life, and water is life. Or it can bring death, if were not careful.
Life-giving "water" flows beautifully (Isaiah) and famously (John) throughout the Bible from the opening reference in Genesis 1.2 to the last one in Revelation 22.17. I share only the first and the last. May you "thirst" and "come to Jesus" so that you are filled and may you be Holy-Spirit led to reflect upon water in new and life-giving ways that heal the millions without water in our suffering world.
The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (Genesis 1.2, NIV).
And God said, Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures (Genesis 1.20, NRSV).
The Spirit and the bride say, "Come,"
And let everyone who hears say, "Come"
And let everyone who is thirsty say, "Come."
Let anyone who wishes take the water as a gift of life. (Revelation 22. 17, NRSV)
Prayer for today:
Dear Jesus, "I thirst," you said and they offered you vinegar not water. Please forgive us. We don't really know what we are doing, often. Help us, this week especially, be more aware of those who have very little or no water to drink. May your kingdom come quickly, our Father, so that everybody has clean safe water to drink. Give us the courage and the conviction to change our wasteful ways and may we be satisfied ourselves and offer the thirsty the life-giving water that you have given us. Amen.