"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
July 10, 2014
Love and Water
by Hannah Bird

Our neighbors sent us water today. They irrigated their green fields and sent us the overflow.

We have a river that runs through our ranch in the forest. We have water rights for our lush pastures up country. But here on our bone dry little stead, we have no water save a shared well. Even if we had water rights we’d be the last draw on the ditch. It would not amount to much.

This morning our place became a network of little streams singing lovely songs over the rocks. My son dragged his sled into the low spot and floated. My husband dug out trenches and ditches to shape and send the water.

It was just a Monday morning, full of worry and work. But now there are children splashing in the depths. We are watering trees and cooling our feet. It feels like a holiday. Water across cracked earth feels like the best kind of miracle.

The only cows on the place are those with new calves. The rest are up on pasture now. The new babies smell the water with curious wonder. They kick their feet to make it splash. The water has made the field where they were born and raised new and interesting again.

Even the cat, who cares nothing at all for anything, went to see.

The water will stop. The neighbors will switch the headgate, and the sparkling water will run away to sing over different rocks. But the water has soaked in. The brown will turn green. We will still remember this lovely day.

I have been thinking a lot about love lately. I worry about love. I feel ill equipped to love. It feels clumsy and strange. It feels hard.

I worry about how we all love. Love seems so brittle. We struggle to love past differences. We do not love past many.

Then we curse the dry dirt. We say the world is cracked and hard. It is much too hard to love.  

Instead, we spend all time digging ditches. We make a thousand routes the water could follow. Then we refuse to open the headgate. The ditches are flawless. The fields are bone dry.

Home teaching and visiting teaching, family reunions, friendships, service, teaching, working and much more of life make lovely networks of canals and ditches.  But we must not mistake the ditches for the water.

It is the water, not the ditch, that heals and beautifies and saves.

It is hard work to dig the ditches. I am not belittling the solid efforts of day-to-day life. But it is brave work to send forth love. That is the work that makes life matter.

Send forth love. It is the second great commandment. It is a way our Father has invited us to be like him. He reminds us that no field should burn up at the end of a dry ditch. He even gives us the water to send.

Elaine Jack said, “Perhaps the major reason the Lord told us to love one another is that only through the experience of loving someone can we begin to understand the Lord's love for us.”

We water our neighbor’s ground and find our own ground flourishing. We understand love better. It makes an Eden of an ordinary life.

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About Hannah Bird

I am me. I live at my house with my husband and kids. Mostly because I have found that people get really touchy if you try to live at their house. Even after you explain that their towels are fluffier and none of the cheddar in their fridge is green.

I teach Relief Society and most of the sisters in the ward are still nice enough to come.

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