Mark 11:1-11, Palm Sunday B, Politics

Stirred Up

Brown water, similar to mine, but found here.

Yesterday I came home about 1:30, planning a quiet half hour with a sandwich and a book, timed to cross over a few minutes with my departing Domestic Goddess.

The first thing that happened was this: I flushed a toilet full of bubbles.

The second thing that happened was this: the toilet filled up with brown water.

“Domestic Goddess! Have you noticed the brown water?”

No, she had not. In fact, she had cleaned the tub within the previous hour, and all was well. We looked at the dishes and the laundry and saw no signs of what was now clearly some kind of problem.

I called the Water District.

I was on hold a lot.

(My half hour of quiet was now half gone.)

They could tell me nothing. “Try running cold water in the bathtub for fifteen minutes. If that doesn’t work, call us back.”

That did not work. It only left my freshly-cleaned bathtub with a golden brown ring.

The Starship Enterprise, installed by Captain KJ.

And left me annoyed, since we just repaired two leaky toilets in an effort to bring our water bill down, as well as to stop, for Pete’s sake, wasting water.

I had other obligations, so I left the brownish tub behind.

When I returned from picking up LP, the water was still running brown, but the next person I talked to at the Water District had an answer: a construction project in the area. Wait until after 7 and then try the bathtub trick again.

That seemed late to me, but what could I do?

Then it was time to pick up my car, which had been in the shop, and while we were out, we went to the store and bought bottled water and food for dinner that would not require water for its preparation.

(We are privileged; we are privileged.)

This will expand to huge, if you like trucks.

On the next return to our street, we found three trucks, one of them huge.

“National Water Main Cleaning Co.”

I’m not sure why the city didn’t tell the Water District about this project.

Maybe we were all too busy preparing for the traffic tie-ups expected in connection with the President’s visit yesterday.

But there they were, laughing and chatting and opening manhole covers as if there were nothing wrong in the whole wide world.

I talked with some neighbors, who hadn’t noticed brown water.

(YET, I thought ominously, still stirred up.)

Then I read up on water main flushing and began to settle down, just like the sediment in the water pipes.

Meanwhile, my friend M was stirred up in another way, in the room with our President. It was fun to see her photos on Facebook and hear her thoughts about the experience. He’s a great speaker (I know this from hearing him at #1 Son’s graduation in 2008). M says he went out on “We Take Care of Our Own.”

Taken by John Ewing, Portland Press Herald

I’ve been knockin’ on the door that holds a throne
I’ve been lookin’ for the map that leads me home
I’ve been stumblin’ on good hearts turned to stone
Those good intentions have gone dry as bone
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own
~Bruce Springsteen

(You have to love a politician with a grasp of irony.)

There was another small city, in another time, where two events stirred up two different groups of people. Somewhere in Jerusalem the people symbolizing the Empire rode in a military parade, while somewhere else, a man on a colt rode through the gates, attracted some attention,went to the Temple and then, according to Mark’s gospel, “and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.” (Mark 11:11b)

It was already late.

His time was short.

By this morning our water was usable, but we’re going to drink the four gallons of bottled water I got at Whole Foods before we drink from the tap again. It’s amazing how much water goes into the dog’s dish, and into the coffee pot.

It stirs me up to realize how I take water for granted.

It stirs me up. I have plenty of clean, safe water all the time; my car took me where I needed to go to buy more in a short-term non-emergency; I got paid yesterday and had the money to spend.

It stirs me up. Maine is dead last, says the paper, for personal income growth. And even though my income is flat for now, which is pretty typical for clergy, I can call myself privileged.

It stirs me up. I’m not sure which of the events here yesterday really speaks more of Empire and privilege: the President’s motorcade or my trip to Whole Foods.

It is already late.

(Not preaching this week, but if I were…)

2 thoughts on “Stirred Up”

  1. Thank you – this inspires me to think more carefully about water; and how privileged we are; and how much we (I) take for granted. Learning to do without is not easy – I am learning to do without something personally and it's not an easy journey. And so then the juxtaposition with what Christ endured brings things home profoundly and meaningfully.

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