“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Water is not one of those things that constantly occupies your thoughts; it’s just always there, ready to be used and consumed whenever you’re in need of it. You don’t have to go out to the yard and pump a few precious gallons of water into a bucket and struggle with it back to the house. It’s at our disposal day and night—all we need to do is turn the faucet—and this can cause us to take for granted something which some people don’t even have access to. I have recently been reminded of how much I appreciate the simple concept of running water.
Yesterday morning we had the water turned off in our house while someone replaced one of the valves outside. It was astounding how often we needed the water that was unavailable: you want to wash your hair—you need water for that; you need to brush your teeth—that takes water; the car has to be washed before you leave—that will have to wait; are you thirsty?—grab some juice from the fridge; since you can’t do any of these things, you decide to water the plants to kill time—oh, wait. Then there inevitably comes that brief moment of insane desperation when toothpaste is dribbling out of the corner of your mouth and you’re eyeing the water in the toilet tank, wondering if it really is clean enough to drink. It was ridiculous how long those few waterless hours seemed to drag on for, but, thankfully, not long enough to actually wash my hair in the toilet tank or use the water to rinse the toothpaste from my mouth. When it finally came back on, we were all singing in jubilation and running the faucets willy-nilly in our excitement—okay, so this last part is a little bit of an exaggeration, but we were definitely glad to have running water back in the house, and it also got me thinking about another one of those “lacking” moments.
There was this massive power outage in southern California last summer, and the power was out for most of the day. At first it wasn’t so bad because the sun would be up for several more hours, most of the food in the refrigerator could be saved, and our electronics were fully charged. But then my iPod got low battery and needed to be recharged, and school papers had to be written by hand instead of on the computer, and then someone wanted to go out later but didn’t have enough light in their room to get ready. We thought about watching television, but we couldn’t do that without power, nor could we use the microwave or stare into the fridge, mindlessly eyeing its contents and letting all the cold air out. And then my dad pulled out the gas lamps we use when we go camping—trips that always have good memories attached to them. Inspired to suddenly “rough it,” I put away my dead iPod and grabbed out my new flashlight/screwdriver/leveler that I bought weeks ago and never had the chance to use. My younger sister Katie and I huddled together, sharing the small light, and decided to make an adventure out of the power outage as we read our books and wandered around the house in the dark. We made up adventures of the darkness and shadows, giggling and acting like it was the most excitement we’d had in months. Then we spent the rest of the night on my sister Elizabeth’s floor reading adorable picture books for her Children’s Literature class and playing games by lamplight. We had candles everywhere, and I can’t remember the house ever smelling that good. I recall being a little disappointed when the power came on that night, though I could hear the whoops of jubilation from our neighbors.
I have decided to appreciate the little things in life, especially the ones I take for granted, because sometimes those are the most important. Family, friends, running water, a roof overhead, electricity—all these things are incredibly significant in our lives but are so expected that they usually don’t receive as much appreciation as they should. And a positive attitude and imagination are just some of those things that can make even the bleakest of circumstances seem like an adventure.
“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart’s affection and the truth of imagination.” –John Keats