Thursday, April 23, 2015

Making Decisions

"A Refreshing Fountain"
- on a hot desert day -

When we moved out to the desert a few years ago, one of the very first things I noticed were the numerous beautifully constructed fountains that adorned the center squares in all the various little desert communities throughout the region. I quickly learned that desert residents build these fountains to provide some welcome relief and refreshment in the midst of the scorching desert heat.

Many times I have gone into our little neighborhood town square on the days when the temperatures have become especially oppressive, sitting in front of our beautiful fountain, I listen to its gurgling and rushing and feel the cooling water spray on my face. It has always reminded me of a descriptive line of Christian poetry that refers to "God's" presence as sweet refreshment here below, solace in the midst of woe.

A few days ago I heard some very discouraging news. Because of the very serious drought affecting all of us in Southern California, the public fountains throughout the desert communities will be turned off until further notice. On a hot day in the desert I will no longer be able to go into town and delight in that fountain of sweet refreshment that I had taken so much for granted up until now.

Our local news has been inundated with stories about the drought, staggering pictures of long-established lakes, rivers and reservoirs, now turned into dried up areas of cracked and barren dust. They tell us that unless we make some serious efforts at preserving our water supply, the day will come when we turn on the tap and nothing will flow out - pretty scary.

There was a story on the news yesterday - a desert resident was discussing how he is "doing his part" at conserving water. He takes a bucket into the shower with him and uses the water that is collected to irrigate his plants-- the experts say that everyone of one us should now do something as simple as that, it will all make a difference.  But, the reality is that every one of us will not do something as simple as that. Many people will just sit back and pretend that nothing is happening and nothing is wrong. 

A I drove through one of my adjacent neighborhoods, I passed by a house with a lush green lawn that was being watered by a host of tiny sprinkler hoses, all pumping out powerful sprays of rich clean water onto its turf. In fact, there was so much water on that lawn that it was flowing out into the gutters on the street and almost flooding the neighborhood.  As I witnessed this decadent abuse of precious water in the midst of a drought, I also thought about that man who takes a bucket with him into the shower so he can collect the water for his plants. 

The fact is that we all make decisions in life and often times our decisions are "non-decisions." The theologian Harvey Cox once observed;

Not to decide is to decide

Rivers and lakes can be drying up, the water supply can be seriously threatened, public fountains can be turned off and we can decide to do so something about it or we can decide to ignore it all, and decide "not to decide"  - either way, "deciding" or "not deciding" are always decisions.

Every day each of us makes all sorts of decisions in life and we also make all sorts of non-decisions. 

The way in which we treat our life, the way we treat a world of nature, the way we treat other people- these are all decisions we make. We can recycle, maybe try to drive less and walk more, preserve the water supply wherever we may live, or we can choose to ignore it all. We can care for our relationships, tell our kids we love them, thank a spouse or a friend for doing an expected errand, give a word of encouragement to a fellow employee for doing a good job, or we can choose to ignore them and do as we please. Either way, these are all decisions we make every day.

The problem is that if we decide not to decide for any length of time we may just find that one day the refreshing fountain we have come to take for granted may no longer be there.

Today I am thinking of all the decisions I make every day and also of all my "non-decisons." It seems to me that I better go and find a bucket to take with me into the shower. 

Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"

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