When I was a little girl . . .
“Oh, no!” I hear readers shouting. “Not another one of her ‘When I was a little girl’ stories!”
I begin again.
When I was a little girl, I had everything I needed.
My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other people in my community loved me.
I was never without food, clothes, a clean bed, a place to go to school, books or anything else a child needs.
But I lived in an area where everyone lived on the cusp of being without one of life’s necessities: water.
I grew up in rural north Arkansas. We experienced a drought every summer.
People’s lawns were crispy instead of lush. Plants in vegetable gardens shriveled and died. Stock ponds went dry. Creeks turned into cracked beds of dirt. Lake Norfork grew wide beaches.
Every summer, the main topic of conversation was rain.
Though the sky sometimes grew dark and threatened, the rain almost always skipped over us, and watered other lawns, gardens, ponds, creeks and lakes.
My family had a “dug” well, not a “drilled” well.
Our well had been dug many years earlier by people using shovels. After the diggers reached below the level of the water table, they lined the well with stones to keep it from collapsing.
The well was then covered, and water could be drawn from it using a bucket and chain.
Many people had dug wells. Some of those wells had legends associated with them.
It was said that an angry fiancée had thrown her engagement ring into our well when her boyfriend wronged her in some way. We never saw the diamond ring. I doubt it was ever there.
Water from this well was pumped into our house to meet all our water needs, except in the summer during the inevitable drought.
Then, our well ran dry.
A summer drought was as certain as gravity.
Drilled wells were much deeper and were dug with powerful machines. People who had drilled wells never ran out of water.
Every summer Dad said, “I’ve got to have a well drilled.”
But he didn’t.
So, when our well ran dry, we “carried” water in barrels, washtubs, and buckets from the homes of neighbors who had drilled wells.
It was a miserable situation.
We suffered from this lack of water, especially Mom, who did all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, bathing of the children and “carrying” of the water.
My siblings and I took our baths in teacups.
When we saw a lush lawn or thriving vegetable garden in the dead of summer, we said, “Someone has watered it.”
Living things require water. Some plants and animals require less water than other plants and animals.
And, out of necessity, some people survive on less water than others.
Some form of the word water (watered, watering, etc.) appears over 600 times in the NIV Bible. (Thank you, Bible Gateway.)
In the Old Testament, the word usually refers to physical water.
In the New Testament, water is sometimes used literally.
Matthew 3:16 reads, As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.
Jesus walked on water, the disciples fished in water, a Samaritan woman went to a well to draw water, Jesus turned water into wine, Pilate washed his hands in water.
Jesus said, “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42).
Jesus also used the word water figuratively.
“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38).
Physical water gives physical life. Spiritual water gives spiritual life.
Water is a powerful metaphor for love.
When I see happy, healthy, thriving children, I think, Someone has watered them with love.
In fact, thriving people of any age have been watered with love.
No one thrives without love.
I encourage you today to be a waterer.
Give someone a bottle of cold water.
Tutor a child.
Comfort a crying baby.
Visit a lonely neighbor.
Smile at a harried cashier.
Give over a parking space.
Share a cookie.
Water everyone you know with love.