A Problem To Be Grateful For

Learning to tell the difference between an inconvenience and a crisis

Posted in , Oct 24, 2017

Burst pipe

A pipe burst in the apartment two floors above us this morning. By 5:14 a.m., when I awoke to the sound of water, our bedroom was already flooded a quarter inch deep. We quickly moved our belongings out into the hallway, grabbed a mop and towels, and then switched to baling with a dustpan. Buckets later, the deluge stopped: our building’s super had turned off the water.

Cleaning up was messy and tedious. Then, just as I sat down to have a cup of coffee, the ceiling over our bed buckled and fell.

Still, no one was hurt. Only a few things of value were damaged. Yes, our place was a mess, and yes, there was an annoying amount of work to do, but we still had a place to live. We had access to electricity and running water.  We even had hot coffee and milk to put in it. Our indoor waterfall was inconvenient, but hardly a crisis.

Over the weekend I’d I spoken with a friend who is dealing with a real crisis: He has spent the past month running Red Cross shelters in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma. He told me of people who were homeless, and others who were homeless-and-mentally ill. There were the homeless-and-addicted, the homeless-and-undocumented and the homeless-and-frail.

So, while I muttered to myself as I wrung rust-colored water from sopping-wet towels, I was well-aware that as problems go, mine was an easy one. It was, in fact, easy enough that I decided that instead of grumbling I should be praying: for those who lack clean water, who lack permanent shelter, whose lives are in upheaval from natural disasters. And, too, for the heroes who help them.

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