Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Water in the Faucet 24/7

by S. Carolyn Law

Every morning when I get up in Chicago there is water in my faucet, both hot and cold. I usually take a shower as part of my waking up ritual. I appreciate this gift of Sister Water. About 2 years ago there was a challenge to try to live on 5 gallons of water a day, the amount that many of the world’s people have to exist on. I knew right off that I could do it. For me, it would only mean postponing my shower, laundry, and dishes for the next day when I could lavishly use Sister Water again.

I didn’t try the experiment. Instead, I try to save 5 gallons a day. I added a pint jar filled with water to the tank of my toilet, an old model water guzzler, to reduce the amount in each flush. Over time the pint saved adds up. I also replaced the water generous showerhead with a reduced flow showerhead. I also almost always wash my car by hand using two buckets, one for soaping and one for rinsing.

Last month, November of 2008, I traveled to Nicaragua for a reunion with the people I worked with 16+ years ago. First I stayed three nights with my friend, Mariana, and her family in the city of Granada. Early on, one of their reports was that the previous weekend the water “left” for two days. They had completely run out of water and had to go looking for some.

Mariana was our neighbor in the barrio in Managua where I had lived for 2 years with Sisters Carmen Barsody and Joanne Klinnert. While she lived in the tiniest tin shack, she always managed to keep her kids healthy and well nourished. We have kept up our relationship over the years. It was good to see her in person and become reacquainted with her growing family. Now, the oldest, Yolainis, is 20 and graduating from high school and the youngest, Carolina J, is 16 and in her second year of high school. In all, there are 8 persons living in her household albeit a cement-block house with three bedrooms.

The water came back before my arrival, that is, until my last morning there, when the water left again. Fortunately, there was enough in the barrel for a splash bath before I left to join others in the barrio where the rest of the reunion was. Sisters Carmen Barsody and Michelle Lallier, Geri Dietz, minister of Associates, were there from the States along with Veronica Rivadeneira and Vilma Zambrano, associates from Ecuador. The occasion for this international meeting was the commitment ceremony of 6 new associates.

I was looking forward to being back in our house that we built there. Needless to say, the barrio had changed so much it was hardly recognizable, only the inside of the house looked familiar. I thought it might be a little cooler in Managua, but the water shortage was much worse. The immediate area where the “Sisters’” house stands, has had no water during the day for 3 years. Most nights the water “arrives” about 1 a.m. and dribbles in until 3 or 4 a.m. Someone has to be up to collect it and dump the small buckets from the spigot low to the ground into larger receptacles. The sound of Sister Water splashing at 2 a.m. was lovely.

But the second night before our departure the water never came. Sunday was a long hot day and we almost ran out of water. Of our group there were four of us joining the three regular inhabitants of the house, so our presence was a strain on the water reserve. Water is so important everywhere, especially in climates which are oppressively hot. Two or three showers a day are the norm. With the strain on the water supply, I gladly accepted, in the morning and the evening, the offer for a shower from one of our new associates who lives down the hill and has a better water supply. The feel of cool water was refreshing.

I give thanks to Sister Water, who as St. Francis prayed is “very useful and humble and precious and chaste.” Let us remember the many, many people - men, women and children -who live on 5 gallons a day. May our nations work toward water justice for everyone.


Paula said...

This beautiful post reminds me of the story of "Small One," which delighted me as a child (and still does). Being a small one myself, I loved that the tiniest donkey, the one that was almost sold to the tanners, was the one that Mary and Joseph picked. Mary, with child, rides Small One into Bethlehem from Nazareth. I love this story because it reminds me that God loves us all, and that each of us has a perfect place in the world. Merry Christmas!!

Paula said...

Ooops! I meant to leave my "Small One" comment on the post about littleness. My apologies.