Jack & Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water . . .
The itsy, bitsy spider went up the water spout . . .
Over the water and over the sea . . .
Little drops of water . . .
There’s water in the rain barrel . . .
Dark brown is the river . . .
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream . . .
Down by the old (not the new but the old) mill stream . . .
March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers
Nursery rhymes and songs I learned as a child echo in my mind as the rains come and come and come. Water is much with us, and a good thing. But this week, I have been mindful of water in a way I haven’t been since spending time in Iraq, where the water is often unfit for human consumption, and being a desert clime, incredibly scarce.
|Illustration of The Ryme of the Ancient|
Mariner. Illustrator: Paul Gustave Doré
They’ve found E-coli in our drinking supply. Thus we are to boil all our drinking water. No problem, I thought. I’ve done this before. So I boiled a good supply of drinking water, and in anticipation of the water being shut off to find the source of the problem, filled the bathtub with water for cleaning and flushing. I washed the dishes and then rinsed them with Clorox. And I remembered to keep my mouth shut in the shower (not as easily done as you might think).
No problem, I told myself – I’m an old hat at this.
But I forgot one thing: I brushed my teeth with the water from the sink.
And then I remembered that you can’t forget anything.
And what I forgot is the most important thing of all: mindfulness. Mindfulness of everything you do is called for when the drinking water isn’t safe and water itself is in short supply. Bathing becomes a luxury instead of a daily routine. Securing drinking water is part of the daily routine; there is, there can be, no forgetting.
I’m lucky – this is only a temporary situation for me. I will not have to hand carry water from a distance. I will not have to keep bleaching my dishwater. I will not have to remember to boil any water that could go into my mouth.
No one that I know who does have to do these daily chores necessary to sustain life complains. It’s simply the way things are. It was my own attitude as well when I was there. But I am here now, and in the land of plenty, with so very much for which to be grateful, I must continually remind myself to the task of gratitude. I wonder why that is? I wonder why we with so much are so often the least grateful? I am sorry for the interruption of our steady supply of good water and its impact on others less able than I to cope. But I am also grateful – for the reminding call to be grateful, if nothing else.
*From The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.