Clean water: scarcity and abundance

A Christian Science perspective: On World Water Day, some spiritual insights on the supply of a basic human need: clean water.  

Water. It’s essential to everything we do, from the moment we get up in the morning until we tuck in for the night. Manufacturing and agriculture also depend on access to clean water. But water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of the globe’s population, with the poor disproportionately affected. World Water Day is observed each year on March 22 to raise awareness of the importance of fresh water and its sustainable, equitable management.

In thinking about how I can help through prayer, I find that a good starting place is to consider deeply the very nature of life. Since life emanates from God, the divine intelligence that creates all life, it follows that Earth is an expression of this intelligence and is actually a magnificent idea of divine Mind, God. A book that’s helpful in understanding this metaphysical perspective is “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy. It explains, “To material sense, earth is matter; to spiritual sense, it is a compound idea” (p. 585).

Since Earth is a manifestation of intelligent ideas, water, too, is actually a spiritual idea that divine Mind unfolds for each individual and community to meet human needs. As we progressively understand Life, or God, to be the infinite consciousness of good, we’ll see the outward expression of that goodness in whatever practical form is needed – including clean water. 

Julie Snorek, a PhD researcher at United Nations University, has studied water issues in Niger, a country in West Africa, where water is the most precious thing people can have. Climate change and drought there are making it increasingly difficult for nomadic pastoralist groups to find water and pastureland. Children, who typically don’t attend school, often walk a full day during very dry months to fetch water and bring it back home. This situation touches my heart, and challenges me to look beyond outward appearances to the spiritual fact that every adult, child, and animal is embraced in our divine Father-Mother’s loving provision and care.

The Bible has many examples of divine Love guiding people to water right where they didn’t expect to find it. For example, when Hagar and her son, Ishmael, were in the desert in danger of dying from thirst, Hagar heard an angel (or idea) from God that “opened her eyes” to a well of water nearby (see Genesis 21:9-21). Essential resources are always available as we open our thought to omnipresent good and to the ideas flowing from divine wisdom.

Today in places like Darfur, Sudan, competition for water and land has led to conflict and even war. Prayer to support peace and progress in this region can uplift thought to discern that divine Principle, God, directs each group to sources of water and resolves disputes, just as Isaac in the Bible settled conflicts between herdsman over wells (see Genesis 26:12-32).

Prayer can be a purifying influence for regions facing water pollution, which could jeopardize human health. Since water is a spiritual idea, it must reflect spiritual qualities such as purity and safety. God doesn’t create anything impure to contaminate creation. We can trust that the Christ, described in Science and Health as “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (p. 332), penetrates whatever ignorance or self-will might impede access to clean water. Everyone can hear this message, including company owners and employees who need to dispose of waste properly, government officials who enact and enforce environmental standards, and citizens. In fact, it was recently announced that the world has met the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water.

Prayer in defense of everyone’s God-given right to fresh water can lead us to practical steps to conserve water in daily living, such as installing a water-saving shower head, or capturing water flow from the kitchen tap while waiting for the water to get hot. Cherishing water as a precious resource may prompt us to select products that take less water to produce. For example, since it takes 10 times more water to produce a pound of meat than a pound of wheat, some people may explore tasty vegetarian dishes or institute “Meatless Monday,” with menu options provided on this website.

Jesus helps us see that the Christ, the understanding of our spiritual identity as God’s image and likeness, is an inexhaustible wellspring of everything we need to carry out our life purpose. When speaking of the spiritual sense of water with a woman who had come to draw water at a well, Jesus said, “[W]hosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

We can begin to see that God’s intelligent creation is complete, interconnected, spiritual, and balanced, a divine ecosystem where all elements cooperate, and all needs are lovingly met.

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