Since we celebrate Thanksgiving during the month of November in the U.S., many people post on social media sharing their thoughts of thanks. I’ve curtailed much of my Facebook activity during the past two weeks, so I’m sharing my own words of thanksgiving here.
Today I give thanks for water. I realize there’s nothing special or inventive about being grateful for water. But I am. For years I gave water little thought. Except when our pump would occasionally go on the fritz when I was little, or the pipes would infrequently burst in winter weather, I never questioned whether I’d enjoy readily available water. When I moved to eastern Europe for a year, however, I needed to be more thoughtful about water–every bit that my roommate and I drank needed to be filtered.
During the summer I spent in Romania, hot water was turned off to various sections of the city for up to a month at a time. I was especially thankful for hot water after that, since bathing took on new challenges for those weeks. But still, we had water.
A few years ago, I read research about bottled water and tap water and learned about chlorine as a purifying agent in tap water. I am thankful it does its job of cleaning the water my family and I drink, but I don’t want us to imbibe the chlorine. So I learned about a simple means of de-chlorinating water to rid it of chlorine after it comes out of our tap–even without a filter.
Just pour up a jar of water and leave it out overnight (or for the equivalent number of hours during the day) on your counter, uncovered. The chlorine will evaporate out of your water just the way it does over time from a swimming pool. (NOTE: If your water contains chloramines–different from chlorine–as a disinfectant, this process will not work the same for you. I checked with our utilities council and discovered that our water does NOT contain chloramine.)
Living overseas made me more grateful for water, and learning how to remove the chlorine from our drinking water is something for which I’m grateful, too. A water fast that I experienced a few years ago heightened my gratitude for water even more–and magnified to me the value of clean, usable water.
In 2011, I read a book called The Hole in Our Gospel, by Rich Stearns. In it, the author writes about the command that Christians receive from God to care for the needy. Later, my husband picked up a free copy of the workbook to go along with this book, and I read through some of it. One step was to undertake a 12-hour water fast. Many people around the world go without quality water on a daily basis; many watch their children die from water-borne illness because they lack access to clean water. Fasting from water for a short period would help heighten my awareness of those who are “water insecure.”
I tend to drink lots of water, and I felt a little trapped–even slightly panicked–thinking of going without water. So I chose an easy 12-hour time period for my fast: from 7:30 PM to 7:30 AM one night. I also tend to stay up late, so going several hours from 7:30 until bedtime without water was sobering. Yet there are mothers around the world who can’t give their children clean water day in, day out.
As I give my own children water today, I will remember to give thanks.
*If you are interested in providing water to those without access to it, check out a charity called Wine to Water or the Water of Life program of Compassion International. (UPDATED 11/19/15: Also please check out the efforts of GAiN (Global Aid Network) and their efforts to improve the quality of drinking water in order to save lives.)