You Never Know

Spiritual Smart Aleck


This week the local water system sprung a leak. It was raining so steadily that it took five days to find and fix the leak, and we were on water hours for those five days. We who are used to potable water from the tap on demand find that having the water shut off is stressful.

This is what is called a “first world problem.”

Now, my kitchen faucet has been dripping for months and I knew it would only get worse. It finally reached the point of not turning off at all, no matter how I tweaked the handle. So I got under the kitchen sink and turned off the water there. Voila, no more leak. When I needed water, I walked to the bathroom, filled a container, and carried it back to the kitchen. When the water was on.

Then my car’s seat belt got stuck tight. Turned out that little threads that had frayed on one edge of the belt got caught in the works, so not a hard fix. The car is in its eighteenth year of service and still runs great, so I can’t complain, even if it is held together with duct tape and has several battle scars, mostly because Fiberglas tends to explode when subjected to the least pressure, such as backing into the bumper of a Rover Discovery in a parking lot. Ahem.
Back to water issues. As I put some soup on the stove one night, a stream of water came trickling from the cabinet above the stove.

A quick look showed that the cabinet was flooded, and there was a leak in the flashing around the range hood’s stack. I emptied the cabinet and threw some towels up there to soak up water. Add that to the fix-it list.

The romance of home ownership wore off years ago. I live in fear that the hot water heater is going to conk out, or some other crisis will come up which will require the swift application of big money for parts and labor. That’s home ownership: maintenance and upkeep.

Cars need that, too. There used to be more romance to automobile maintenance and upkeep. When I was a young sprat I could jack up my ’58 Chevy and change the oil, and I knew how to get the linkage loose when it locked up.

Now, I open the hood of my Honda, and if I have an audience I say, “Oh, I see the problem. They put the engine in sideways.” I am the only person in the entire world who thinks this is funny.

I know how to check the oil, how to add windshield wiper fluid to the reservoir, how to jump start the car, and how to fill ‘er up, but mostly my car is a mystery to me, even though we have been together for almost eighteen years and over 170,000 miles. Cars are not simple anymore.

So both the house and the car could use some tender loving care, and, oh yeah, the yard is being taken over by blackberries.

But I’ll say this for all these little problems – they distract me from what I consider bigger problems and concerns, such as climate change; the plight of survivors and victims of wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, and other natural disasters; the dangers and hardships faced by refugees and the homeless; the fact that our country has gone seriously awry. Human beings’ inhumanity to other human beings. You know. That stuff. That gets me down sometimes.

I was reading the first three chapters of the book of Micah in the Hebrew scriptures this morning, and Micah was railing against human beings behaving as badly then, in the 8th century BCE, as they do now, terrorizing the peaceful and innocent in the name of acquiring money and power.

This tells me that we are a consistent species. This consistency does not comfort me.
Micah gets more encouraging after chapter three, and in chapter six, verse eight, lays down a simple guide for how to live. You can google it and compare translations. (Micah 6:8, for you non-Bible types)

Leaks can be fixed, faucets replaced, and stuck seatbelts unstuck. These are practical little problems. Big stuff – the world, the country, the climate, all of us broken people – no easy fixes.

I turned the water on to the kitchen sink yesterday so I could wash dishes. When the dishpan was full, and I turned off the faucet, it did not leak. Not one drop. It continues dry this morning. I figure this is temporary, but it reminds me: you never know.

It is wise not to get too attached to what you think you know.

Not an original opinion of mine, but, just saying.