Hold Your Water

“There will be water if God wills it.” – Stephen King

This is one of my favorite quotes from The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, and one I repeat to myself quite frequently in uncertain situations. To put the phrase in general context, it comes as a reply when one character asks another whether they will achieve their desired goal- and sooner, rather than later.

The response he receives is short and very simple. “There will be water if God wills it”. In other words, stop trying to control the situation; the things that are meant to be will happen in their own time.

Patience may be a virtue, but I can assure you that it’s not one I’m naturally gifted with. I’ve developed a better sense of equanimity as I’ve gotten older, but I’ll be the first to admit that I still really, really enjoy seeing a resolution to something that is troubling me- and sooner, rather than later. As such, I generally don’t do well with waiting or uncertainty. Of course, this tendency doesn’t exactly work with… well, you know… actual, day-to-day life.

Isn’t it just so fortuitous, then, that we’re each given the circumstances in life we need to experience growth? Lucky me, I’ve been given seemingly endless opportunities to develop patience. (And, since I can’t quite seem to learn the lesson, I assume that life will provide me with many, many more chances to practice.)

So often, frustrating circumstances seem to drag on, messily testing my conviction that everything will work out as it should in the end. My head knows it, but sometimes my heart quails; how do I stay strong in that belief when the challenges keep coming, and I begin to suspect the light at the end of the tunnel might just be the lightning from another storm?

There will be water if God wills it.

It doesn’t take much interpretation; things happen as they should, in their own time. I see those words- I hear them- but apparently, I need to be reminded to put my faith in them, in the most literal sense. 

To wit: Our family home sits on acreage, and until recently, its water source was a well shared with our closest neighbor.  By creative (lunatic) design, the actual well was on the neighbor’s property, but the pumphouse and power were on ours. So, we had no water supply without them, and they had no power without us.  (There’s probably a lesson in there on the nature of balancing relationships, but I’ll save that for another day.)

Due to the system’s design, our neighbors (who are downhill, and closer to the well) had the first priority on water. In the past, it had not proven to be much of an issue, but a couple of years ago, we realized this odd arrangement had a rather pronounced downside for us. It became glaringly obvious during the summer; when the water table dropped, our neighbors’ usage often meant no water made it up the hill to our house.

Through those very warm months, there was no escaping the effect. So many things had to be timed around the availability of our water supply- including tending to our home, garden, property and animals- and that availability was sorely lacking. Household chores lost their rhythm; the dishwasher and washing machine, happily humming when started, would often stop mid-cycle, providing an unpleasant surprise upon my return.

What’s more, taking a shower in our house had become a sort of roulette; you never knew whether you’d be blasted by eye-opening pressure surges, or shiver under a barely dripping showerhead. Sometimes you got both!

These smaller annoyances, however, were secondary to more serious concerns, including an inability to defend our home in case of fire.  Given that we live the midst of the very dry and flammable Oregon forest, being without water became a rather critical issue.

In June, when we first started having real problems, we recognized the potential for disaster and made the decision to drill a well on our own property.  It’s an expensive endeavor, and a decision that must be made as a leap of faith- there’s always the possibility that the time and thousands of dollars invested will produce…absolutely nothing. (In fact, we have a neighbor who has had to drill three separate wells- which produce a total of just ½ gallon of water per minute.) Still, we signed the contract and began to wait for our well to be drilled.

July, August, and September passed. Delays due to scheduling, fires, and equipment failure kept things from progressing. Time was stretching out, and it was hard not to feel like circumstances were conspiring against us.

By mid-October, I was feeling truly stressed. We were in a tenuous position. Winter was coming, and once it hit, there would be no drilling; ground softened by precipitation won’t support the weight of the rig. We’d spent thousands of dollars cutting a road to a site that I worried wouldn’t be accessible until the Spring, which presented another challenge. We had gotten egress to our property through two neighboring parcels- could we reasonably expect those owners to give us access indefinitely?

Finally, good news- the drilling company said they could come out the following week. I was beyond relieved to finally have a concrete plan in place.

Nature, of course, laughs at our plans, and the rains came in before the drillers could get to us. The end of October usually marks the beginning of the rainy season, so I was sure this meant we’d missed our window of opportunity for the year. I couldn’t change the circumstances, so I did what I do best in stressful situations: lie awake at night, fuss, and fret.

Then, miraculously, we had a restoration of summer temperatures and sun. Ten dry days- the mercury hit 80 degrees, and we got the most beautiful dose of Indian Summer I’ve ever seen.

It was all we needed.  All those weeks and months of waiting and frustration came down to no more than a few hours of work on a sunny day. By two o’clock in the afternoon, the drillers announced they had hit water, exactly as they’d predicted, 180 feet down.

They’d also projected 6 gallons of water per minute from the well, based on the records for the area. That was plenty enough for our needs. Still, I had worried. What if their estimation was wrong?

It turns out, they were wrong, at least about one thing.

That well they drilled? It’s producing 15 gallons a minute. That’s unheard of in this area, a huge and unexpected gift.

So, once again, I’ve been given the lesson, this time in the most literal sense.

There will be water if God wills it.

2 thoughts on “Hold Your Water”

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