Many months ago, as I was preparing for my first Embrace Mercy talk, I contemplated doing a series on the Works of Mercy. I forgot all about that idea until this morning when I had an a-ha moment. There are not enough Mondays left in this Jubilee Year of Mercy to give each one of these works its own separate post, so I will likely combine them from time to time. Here’s hoping for good follow-through!
So what was my a-ha moment? I was filling a pitcher with water so I could brew some tea which I will then pour over ice. I do this often; generally not noteworthy. But then I noticed a bug…a very tiny bug…floating in the water. We have had windows open for a week, and our screens are not in the best of shape. I promptly poured the water down the drain to start over. Then, I felt a tinge of guilt.
I was reminded of a conversation I had nearly 20 years ago with a college student who spent her summer in Haiti with the Missionaries of Charity. We were on retreat, and a few of us team members were in the kitchen debating whether or not we should drink the unopened milk which had “expired” two days previous. This young woman told us how people in Haiti would just about give their right arms to have such a luxury as a gallon of cold milk. She continued to share about her summer experience, including how she witnessed women sifting flour daily to get bugs out before they cooked their meager meals. She made these points firmly, without heaping guilt on us, but instead with a challenge to be more grateful for all that we had. Needless to say, we used the “expired” milk that day.
That entire conversation entered my mind as I watched my water go down the drain. All because of a gnat. What’s worse is that I don’t even drink water straight from the tap any way. I run it through my special pitcher, sitting in my office, that has a filter. Yep, I’m that picky. I don’t like drinking plain water at all, and definitely not tap water. I can taste a difference in my tea with unfiltered water, or at least I have convinced myself of this. I have access to clean drinking water. Every. Single. Day. And yet I want it cleaner and tastier. May God have mercy on me.
Now I realize that God created me to live in a time and place with such a blessing. I don’t think He wants me to feel guilty every time I enjoy a glass of cold milk or a fabulous cup of Irish breakfast tea. What I do think is that God wants me, and all of us to be more mindful of those who don’t have these blessings. Beyond being mindful, we must do something about it. I decided to ponder this more.
Many poverty-relief charities assist communities by building wells for safe drinking water. One such organization is Catholic Relief Services, whose programs are varied, but include clean water initiatives. Other charities deal specifically with clean water alone, recognizing it will inevitably impact community health, agriculture, and education, along with just about everything else. Today I discovered Charity: Water and was deeply moved by their bold mission. I spent a crazy amount of time watching their videos on YouTube. I encourage you to check them out.
Financially supporting such organizations is good, but how else can we heed Jesus’ words to give drink to the thirsty?
- Consider looking into area food pantries or your local St. Vincent de Paul Society. Perhaps you could donate bottled water on a monthly basis to stock their shelves
- Sometimes a lack of clean water comes from unpaid bills. By helping to pay water and sanitation bills for people in need (such as through your church), families will be healthier.
- Keep some bottled water, hand sanitizer and other hygiene products in your car as care packages to give away when you see someone in need.
- Pray. Without ceasing. The issue of drinking water can be overwhelming if we try to take care of it on our own. God has already created the water. Let’s ask Him how we can share it more abundantly and generously.
I know I will still enjoy my tea, iced or hot. Hopefully, however, I will be a better steward of the water that is available to me. And hopefully I will grow in gratitude for that water, and every blessing that is showered upon me daily.
What simple blessings do you have that have been easy to take for granted? How do you offer up prayers of thanksgiving? In song? A journal? Feel free to share below.