The wet stuff might be a pain but it remains a vital part of our lives

Oxford Mail: The Right Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford The Right Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford

IT'S undoubtedly true that we’ve had more water than we want these last few weeks. It’s been everywhere.

Do you remember those dry days last summer when the ground got harder and harder and we wondered whether it would ever rain again? It did.

Now we can’t stop the heavens emptying over us and the ground water rising under us. And we’ve all become obsessional.

We know it’s the jet stream that’s got dislodged from its normal flow and goes on delivering the ‘wrong’ weather to us. And we try to forget the wisdom that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing. It certainly feels like bad weather when we slosh through the morning puddles yet again.

Water is a profoundly important part of our lives. We can’t live long without it. Nor can we live with too much of it. And nor can we live long with polluted water. Five million children a year die in developing countries, mainly because of water-borne diseases.

In the smallest room in our house we have a photo of a loo in Burundi which we’ve sponsored because we know that good sanitation is essential for good health. It looks pretty basic to me, but that’s all you need. Running water does the rest.

In some parts of the world water is so scarce it’s making deserts grow and forcing populations to move.

In many places the provision of water is so political it might be one of the major causes of conflict in future decades.

Our major faiths have also reckoned with the importance and the danger of water. In the poetic writing of Genesis, creation comes out of a watery chaos, and that chaos threatens to overwhelm the earth again in Noah’s famous flood.

But in the poetry at the end of the Bible the river of life flows through the new Jerusalem and waters the trees which are there for the healing of the nations.

I love that picture. It looks as if the garden has come into the city and healed it. In this garden city water has found its true vocation as the giver of life, not the cause of misery and violence.

In the midst of our woes over the excess of water dumped on our damp little island this winter perhaps we can be reminded of just how vital it is that we treat all our natural resources with respect. Water in particular has to be conserved, channelled, purified and fairly distributed.

It offers the gift of life to everyone and everything. Which is why Christians use water to mark the gift of new life in baptism.

A fresh start, a new beginning, a thorough soaking in the love of God. DH Lawrence wrote that he had been ‘dipped again in God and new created.’ Nice image. I just hope that we aren’t dipped in too much more water this winter!

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