Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Drought relief

This morning we read:

You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
Psalm 65:9,10

We are experiencing exceptional drought conditions in my county. So, I was happy to see the National Weather Service forecast for today, telling me that there is an 80% chance of showers on Thursday. Oh, how we need that rain. But even as I welcome the relief of a bit of much needed rain, I think about how little we are actually affected by a drought like this. The worst thing for most people around here is a dry, brown lawn and a less productive vegetable garden. If we pay attention to the Mandatory Water Restrictions, we might take a shorter shower. But, we are mostly insulated from the impact of drought by our wealth. There is still plenty of food in the grocery store and this drought is really, for most of us, a minor inconvenience.

The farmers in our area are suffering more. They face crop losses because it hasn't rained and higher than normal livestock slaughter because pasture grass is dead and ponds are dry. They will face decreased revenues. So may go out of business. But even they are insulated somewhat by the wealth of our country and resources available to struggling farmers.

Drought in Africa is different. When the rain doesn't fall, it is more than an inconvenience. Every drop of water that falls is precious. I remember not drought, but dry season in Cameroon. The ground was powdery, the dust everywhere. It was next to impossible to carry enough water to my little vegetable garden to keep anything growing. In the middle of the dry season that year, we got a few scattered drops of rain. Their planging on the tin roof signaled us to run outside, and we stood in the yard letting them fall on us, laughing. When the rains came, everyone rejoiced as the brown hillsides grew lush and green and the crops flourished.

But there are times when the welcome sound of drops on the roofs is absent. The rains fail. And when that happens, it is more than a mild inconvenience. It can become a tragedy. People die.

In our prayer time this morning, we prayed for rain - for enriching, softening, blessing showers here tomorrow. And we prayed, too, for those in the world who are not insulated, as we are, from the dire consequences of drought. We prayed for God's mercy, and for our hearts to be more aware of the needs of others than our own. Oh God, may we not focus so much on our little problems that we are blind to those who really are hungry and thirsty. Give us hearts of compassion and eagerness to share physical and spiritual food and drink to the hungry and thirsty.

"For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink... Then the righteous will answer him, saying, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?...And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." Matthew 25:35-39 (portions)

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