It was only for a few days but most of us had to boil water for a period of time. It came as a result of the excessive rain. Some blamed the dirt in the water on the logging that had been done in the watershed some ten years ago. Others, especially from official quarters, denied it. Regardless of blame there was still the order to boil water or buy bottled water.

As we boiled our water the homeless came to mind. They would neither be able to boil or to have money to buy bottled water so they would be forced to drink what was available. We thought about how the homeless find water to drink. We know that in Toronto there is a by-law that forces all restaurants to provide water for whoever asks regardless if they are a customer but there is no such by-law here. The question remains: How do the homeless find water to drink in a city that has few drinking fountains?

As we boiled our water, the First Nations people came to mind. On many reserves across Canada they are forced to boil water everyday. It was inconvenient for us but think of what it means to have to do this every day. Put that together with the national churches statement made through Kairos that "Water is a precious gift from God and a right for every person on the planet" and we know that there is much to be done in our own land as well as in the rest of the world. We also know that it is possible for every family to have pure water close at hand but it will take money and resolve. We have Billions of dollars to spend on war but little on clean water for all.

As we boiled our water, we were mindful of the ways in which the church has sought to convince its members not to buy bottled water, and to oppose water becoming a commodity sold by bottling companies. Normally our tap water is just fine, but some continue to think it purer if it comes out of a pop bottle. They have failed to see the warning signs on the bottle about not using it past a certain time.

As we boiled our water, the efforts of many Canadians to preserve water in our land and not to make it a part of our trade with the rest of the world came to mind. To make water a commodity for trade would contradict the churches understanding that water is a free gift for all and is to be offered and conserved for all and for future generations.

As we boiled our water, we discovered that we used less water. We live in North Vancouver, which does not have water meters. One seldom thinks of the amount of water that is being used. But water is to be conserved along with the rest of the gifts that God has provided.

Finally, as we boiled our water I wondered about the number of congregations that have participated in the ecumenical water campaign in the church initiated by Kairos. As a member of the Peace and Justice unit I again was reminded that there is more work to be done within the church. If you want to find out more about how you can be involved in this campaign please call David Dranchuk at 604 584-6306 or Margaret Marquardt at 604 874-5030.

Don Johnson is a member of the Peace and Justice Unit. He is a Lutheran pastor.