by Karla Braun
I was raised to be conscious of water wastage. I didn’t need a list of five ways to save water to tell me to turn off the tap while brushing my teeth; I was already doing so.
A dripping tap is the sound of waste. The dull plop into a bucket may be louder but is less distressing because that water is being preserved for another use.
As I consider all the small efforts we are beginning to take as individuals and society in Canada and the USA, I’ve begun to use that dripping faucet image to find hope: it eventually fills a bucket.
It’s easy to feel superior for our efforts. I ride bike year-round in the famously wintery city of Winnipeg rather than own a car; my partial kitchen remodel with re-used and natural materials made a space for my compost-eating box of worms; a water bottle, bags and cutlery are part of the kit I lug everywhere I go. Don’t get me started on those people in their suburbs with their cars.
But we all have different factors affecting our capacities—and we all experience a call to repentance for the times we have failed to meet the standards to which we know we are called.
Each person’s efforts are worth something
That’s where the dripping tap comes in. Each person’s efforts to reduce their load on the earth is worth something. Anyone who has tracked the impact of a leaking tap on a water bill knows —it adds up!
It’s true there is a crisis brewing. Our waste output is not just a leaking tap but a spewing firehose. We’re dealing with far more than a bucketful.
However, this perspective is paralyzing—and hopeless. As Mennonites, we believe in collective action, and as followers of Jesus, we have faith that we can participate in God’s work of re-creation. Let’s discern which drips we’re called to collect and spring into action. For each person, it will be different, but all these efforts will start to amount to something.
And as each of us catch our drips, we’ll see the impact of our effort, small though it is. We’ll start to notice more drips we can do something about. As we fill our buckets, we may start to wonder why we put up with these leaky taps anyway.
Some will take a DIY approach while others call in the experts, but we’ll begin to demand change to the systems that are leading us to this wastefulness. We’ll see that each one of us can make a difference in so many ways—including advocacy against systems, not only personal revolution.
By starting with a focus on whatever small actions are in our grasp, we can find the dedication to meet that challenge and the courage to open our eyes to the ever-larger challenge surrounding us. But we do it in a spirit of repentance and love, led by the one who did not give us a spirit of fear.
Karla Braun lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, on Treaty 1 territory, with clean drinking water supplied by Shoal Lake 40 on Treaty 3 territory. She is a member of Crossroads Mennonite Brethren Church.