As I write this, so many warnings are resounding in the media that this small reflection may seem trite: it looks to be a long, DRY summer in the Columbia Basin and surrounding regions. That may bode well for sun lovers but it portends poorly for crops, fish and lawns.
As always, the opportunities before us are for aggressive plans and responsible participation in water consumption and conservation: using enough without using too much.
Much of the challenge depends on water storage in snow, lakes, aquifers and reservoirs. We have no control over the former three, and lots of control over the last. This year the snowfields in the Rockies have ample provision for the Columbia and Snake rivers, but those in the Cascades drained by the Yakima River are woefully insufficient.
This is not our first rodeo, nor are we alone in our concern.
Many regions of the West and Southwest have been in drought for a half-decade or more. Perhaps it’s not yet the Dust Bowl, but the situation is serious nonetheless. Irrigation practices, storage capabilities and soil-moisture conservation have been major issues in the Northwest for over a century.
Farmers, managers, politicians and all stewards of the land are constantly laboring to distribute increasingly limited water supplies to thirsty crops, communities and fish in ways that are legal, compassionate and just. In addition, private and public consumers share responsibility for shrinking our wants (green lawns) down to our true needs (crops).
The Hebrew bible knows of living in times of plenty and scarcity. The story of Joseph tells of the wisdom of planning ahead and saving (“hold in reserve”) in the fat or productive years so that there is enough to sustain in the lean or less fruitful years (Genesis 41:25-37). The story also tells of the wise mercy of sharing in lean years for the good of all. Such wisdom about managing in feast and famine applies in literal and figurative ways to many aspects of our existence: the stewardship of all forms of life entrusted to us.
Ultimately it is about “water” for the whole person to thrive in lush and arid times.
Physical exercise, healthy diet, sufficient sleep and refreshing hydration store healthy reserves in one’s body. Intellectual exercises of creating and reflecting, continuing education, mental relaxation and refreshment store cognitive reserves. Relational exercises of trust and forgiveness, regular communication, time alone and with others store emotional-relational reserves. And spiritual exercises of meditation, prayer and devotion, religious nourishment, regular observance of sacred rest and occasional extended vacation time store reserves in one’s soul.
Such reserves are necessary, for drought happens in life, including yours and mine. Building and filling reservoirs of all kinds helps to ensure there will be enough to share and thus endure the dry spells.
Our maker has given us the wisdom, knowledge and resources to sustain and enrich life with meaning and purpose in times of more and of less until the gift is returned to the giver.