Tuesday, June 22, 2010

my thoughts

{brushing teeth in the kitchen where the jug of water was}

I have lots of thoughts running around in my head about Water Day. I knew that we used our running water a lot, but it's one of those things that you can't truly appreciate until you cut yourself off from it. First thing in the morning, I got out of bed and went over to the sink and turned the faucet on. Blake immediately reached over, turned it off, and reprimanded me. Seriously, turning on the faucet is such an automatic behavior that I had to continually remind myself throughout the day not to turn it on. I really did realize just how much I depend on running water.

{boiling water to clean the dishes}

To be completely honest, I struggled with the fact that I felt we were "cheating" most of the day. We didn't get to take showers that day, but we did take showers the day before and the day after. I still used wet wipes to change Tyler's diaper. I didn't get to do laundry, but that was able to wait. We have toilets and we flushed them (people were coming to view the house!). The reality is that we only got a very small glimpse of what it is like to be without easy access to water. Plus, most people in developing countries walk miles everyday to collect dirty water. We had clean water.

{cleaning the dishes :: there wasn't much water in that sink}

So, we had 2 1/2 gallons of water for the day. I had no idea how much it would take to get through the day, so we were very conservative. Water became very precious to us. My neighbor had Brady's cup of water and was about to throw it out onto the yard and I had to hold myself back from lunging at her to save the water! We decided that the only reason we would use the water was to drink and to wash dishes. Since we had to be conservative with our water, the kids spent some of the day thirsty. It was hard for me to deny them such a basic need (even though they were getting plenty in relation to those in developing countries). It helped me relate on a very microscopic level to what moms without access to clean water must go through daily. To look your starving and desperately dehydrated child in the eyes and say you don't have any water for them must rip those moms' hearts in half. Or to knowingly have to give your child dirty water that will make them sick because that's just how desperate you are. It's one thing for me to be denied, but to watch my children be denied is a completely different beast. 4,500 mothers watch their children die every day because they don't have clean water. Horrifying.

But what really got to me throughout the day was that MY excess contributes to their lack of water. I felt very guilty. Not because I want my children to have clean water. I felt guilty that we are wasteful and ungracious in our use of water (and other resources). We take much more than we need and others pay the consequences. It's really easy when you live in America to avoid and ignore consequences. We buy our way out of them. I felt so spoiled that day. I looked at the world different- I noticed how much I used electricity and I was so grateful when I was able to get in my car to get where I needed to go. Things that I take for granted every.single.day. I know that if I really appreciated and valued these things I wouldn't whine so much when other (unimportant) things don't go my way. Times like these, it blows my mind what living in the land of plenty (and then some) does to my perspective. I see getting pizza once a week and Target runs as a necessity. I want more. I feel like I deserve more.

So, again, we find ourselves in the tension that has come to define us. We live here, but we know too much about what is happening there. And again, we walk away wanting to give more, deny ourselves more, and most importantly, LOVE more. There is still so much room in our lives to love others more.

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that we may live as we wish.
-Mother Theresa

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