"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

05 June 2011

Being the woman at the well.....

Okay, I admit that we're spoiled. We have hot and cold water at the turn of a faucet. Or at least, we're supposed to. When we have it (which really is so much of the time we take it for granted) our water is clean, convenient, and whatever temperature we want it.

Except that today, and yesterday, we don't have it. Yesterday morning, our water meter sprung an enthusiastic leak. After ten hours of convincing the local water authority that they might want to come out and take a look at it, they admitted that the problem was theirs. Another eleven hours later, they actually did come out and look at it. And they replaced the meter. yippee.

But our water is pumped to the top of our hill because the borough does not maintain enough water pressure to get it here on its own. And there's a giant bubble in the line, which means the pump can't pump anything. And the borough had no idea how to fix it.

So here we sit, for a second night with no water.

Actually, I shouldn't say no water... I was raised in the country and the pioneer girl gene is not entirely extinct from my DNA. I'm not one to sit back and take not having water. So, thanks to some good friends, I gathered up a sink full of dirty dishes, a smelly teenager, and two large buckets (well one is a nine-gallon wine fermenter complete with lid... thanks be to God... if needed I do have a second one, but they're a bear to move when full) and trotted over to the "well." The well, of course is our friends' house, where I did my dishes, sent my teen to shower, and pilfered 15 gallons of clean water. We can use that for drinking and washing for tomorrow and maybe the next day if we need to.

On the way back, I told my teen that I felt like some ancient (or not so ancient in some parts of the world) village woman, hauling to the well in the evening cool to fetch home the water for the next day. Then I quickly corrected myself... I don't have to carry the water, I have a car. (In fact, I was even able to park closely enough that I just stretched the hose right to my trunk and filled that big fermenter there... some guy rode by on a bike and kind of stared a little. I smiled and said "alternative fuel" and let him wonder. My fun for the evening.) I can fetch the water in with very little actual heavy lifting. Elsewhere in the world women and children haul heavy loads just to meet the day's needs.

But one way I was like the village woman. As I stopped off at the well, I was offered a drink, a bit of hospitality, friendly faces, a conversation. The well was a communal experience. I may be seeing a lot of my friends if my water does not come back on soon (though I probably ought to mooch off different friends each day so nobody gets tired of me) but that's only unusual in a world where the conveniences of a modern tap mean I don't have to live in community in order to meet my daily needs. Women in particular are prone to feeling isolated in our culture, and perhaps the common well is part of why women doing the mundane chores at home with the kids don't seem so heavy with the task as we western women do. The phone, email, these aren't the same thing.

And while its a small kindness to let me fill my pail from your hose, it means a great deal to me. The common well is about small kindness that suits great need. Giving a drink, a hand with a heavy load, a kind word.

And the woman who cannot enjoy that community at the well cannot truly live. Her needs go unmet. And alone she slogs back to her home bearing her burdens in the heat of the day.

I'm grateful to my friends at the well.

But I'll be darned grateful when the water's back on too!

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