Today our action is to shorten our shower. We do this in solidarity with those who have access to less than 20 liters of water a day.

Did you know that every minute you are using between 7-10 liters of water.  Many people take a ten minute shower without even thinking about it.  Time your shower and see how you can cut it down. The best is to wet yourself, turn off the tap while you are soaking and shampooing  and then rinse off. Why not have a competition with your family  to see who can shower the quickest? Then write down the number of liters you have saved. As we reflect today it is good to reflect on the imbalance of those who have several showers in their house and those who only have a bucket of water to wash from.

St Francis of Assissi came from a wealthy middle class family. If he had been born today no doubt they would have had many toilets and bathrooms.. His father was among the first generation of the new propertied business class. Francis recognized that his father’s obsession with money and property had destroyed his father’s soul, and so he set out on a very different path. Francis concluded that the only way out of such a world was to live a life of voluntary poverty or “non-possession.” He refused to be part of the moneyed class because he knew that once you owned something you’d have to protect it, and for some reason, you would inevitably try to get more of it. Francis said, “Look, Brothers, if we have any possessions, we will need arms to protect them. . . . Therefore, we do not want to possess anything in this world.”

Francis felt that in order to find a way out, he had to live in close proximity and even solidarity with the excluded ones in his society. He literally changed sides. He had been born among the upper class in Upper Assisi. In the lower part of town lived the lower class. Francis not only moved to the other side of town, but he actually moved to the plain below Assisi where there was a leper colony. The word “leper” did not always refer to the contagious disease. Rather, the lepers in both Jesus’ and Francis’ times represented the excluded ones, the ones whom society had decided were unacceptable, unworthy, or unclean for a number of reasons. Francis told us to identify not with the upper class and the climb toward success, power, and money, but to go to where Jesus went–to where there was pain, to the excluded ones. We were to find our place not in climbing but in descending, not at the top but at the bottom, not among the insiders but with the outsider. What an upside down world!

In our focus on saving water , let us consciously identify with those who do not have access to water – to find out place not in climbing but in ascending

It seems to me the Franciscan worldview is now desperately important if the 7.4 billion of us are going to exist happily together on this one limited planet. Voluntary simplicity is now essential for social survival. Francis warned us where we were headed eight hundred years ago.


Rev Rachel Mash

Adapted from Richard Rohr.

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