I have my friend’s tales of woe to thank for this thought. Where I am over the last month or so we’ve had rather a lot of rain. It is only in the last few days before writing this that the expected sunshine and warmth for this time of year has appeared. But last weekend my friend had a couple of unwelcome encounters with water.
They were staying in a holiday cottage on what was I believe a dark and stormy night. It appears that leaves got blown into a drain resulting in a blockage. The immediate consequence was a flooded kitchen. No big deal and the owner soon sorted everything out.
However, upon returning home they found water dripping through a ceiling caused by a failed joint in the pipework. Again an immediate quick fix, followed by a more permanent repair restored normal conditions.
These surpluses of the liquid essential to life set me thinking about those in other parts of the world who struggle to find enough, if any. We’ve all seen the appeals for Water Aid and, if you can offer any support, I commend them to you. But my thoughts took me further back.
I don’t remember when it was exactly but there used to be a ‘god slot’ programme on BBC-TV that offered more diverse stories than those chosen by today’s producers. As far as I can recall there were stories from around the world of faith in action supporting communities in greater need than our own.
The one that has stuck in my mind through the years was about a community building contour dams in partnership with one of the featured charities. For those of you that don’t know contour dams in their simplest form are a line of rocks and stones, perhaps within a low bank of earth, that, as the name suggests, follows the contour line – the line of same height – around a hill or along a slope. They are designed to trap rainwater when it comes and reduce the run off. In looking for an image to go with this post I found many examples of more sophisticated structures that fit this bill.
The community in question were building these dams because they needed to trap the water to irrigate their land. But what struck me the most and made me want to go and be with them was that they had been building these dams for 3 years. Their annual rains had failed for those last years. But still they build the dams.
Let me be clear I didn’t want to go and help build the dams because I thought they needed my help. I wanted to go and learn from them how they kept building after all those dry months. I wanted to learn about their faith that the rains would, one day, come.
I don’t know if that was the case. I can’t even remember where the community was so am unable to find out what has happened to them over the years. But I do remember their faith. St. Paul wrote to the Hebrews saying: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Those people waiting for the rains may have never heard of St. Paul, or the Hebrews, or even the Bible from where the quote comes from. But they had a depth of faith that many of us aspire to.
And we all can learn something about that.