A funny thing happened to me today, and by “funny,” I mean: trieste, reflective of the zeitgeist, real shadow work, Charles Williams-type archetypical eruptions, as-above-so-below stuff — you know, that kind of “funny.”
I’ve been working too hard. I love my work and I’ve always been a woman who works a lot, but, lately, I’ve gotten older and the work’s gotten more intense and my close friends have gotten tired of hearing me complain that something’s got to give when I don’t do anything to make it give. So today I took what, for me, felt like a big risk. I arranged a conference call and said I couldn’t write a brief (that an entire group of co-counsel had assumed that I’d write) and I asked if someone else could write it.
And, of course, someone else could. (And, at least as of this evening, I haven’t been fired or left destitute, without work. We’ll see how this goes.)
And so I only worked for half a day today and came home to rest a bit, the first time in ages that I haven’t worked a full Saturday.
I’m in the middle (and I think that I may have mentioned this completely traumatic fact, oh, once or twice) of a kitchen renovation. I came home from work and walked into my little cottage to find a strange man putting down floorboards in my kitchen. He was obviously foreign, obviously from somewhere in the Middle East, pretty obviously, to my ears and eyes, from Syria. He didn’t say and, in these times, I didn’t ask.
He immediately began to apologize for still being there, for the noise, for the dust, for his tools, for everything. I assured him that I was glad to have him there working on the floor and I went outside to spend some time with my garden.
Later, I came inside and poured myself a glass of white wine from the fridge (plugged into a dining room outlet) and he asked if I had any water. Of course, the fridge is disconnected from the water line that normally lets me fill guests’ glasses with cold filtered water and there’s now no sink in my kitchen. I have some bottled water downstairs for emergencies, but I couldn’t get downstairs due to the torn-up floor.
And I found myself, to the poor man’s consternation, suddenly in tears.
I am not a woman who ever wants to think that anyone who asks me for water will go away thirsty.
Water is sacred to me. Whenever I hand anyone a glass of water — G/Son when he wakes up in the morning, the guys who cut my grass on a hot day, a law student interviewing for a job in my office, — I silently give the Stranger in a Strange Land blessing. May You Never Thirst. (I always bring the same thing to house blessings: a basket with a loaf of bread, a bottle of water or wine, a candle, and some salt. And I always give this blessing: May you never hunger. May you never thirst. May you always be warm. May your life always have savor.)
I got my act together. I’m a lawyer and in law, as in baseball, there is no crying. I offered him wine, which he kindly declined. And then I went into the guest room where the boxes are stacked up, unpacked a champagne flute (the first box to hand), went into the bathroom, and ran a glass of cold water.
Because I will be, as my grandma would have said, “gol-durned” if, in these times — with the Water Wars beginning in earnest, with people seriously suggesting that we treat immigrants and refuges with contempt, with some people suggesting both that we can’t take care of our own and that “our own” doesn’t mean everyone — I will be, in these times, gol-durned if anyone will ask me for water in my own home and not have some when I have it to give.
May it be so for you.
Picture found here.