Monday, Sept. 13, 2021. Yesterday (Sunday) we watched helicopters dragging buckets through the sky, heading toward the foothills. I found myself wondering if there’s enough water in the Tule’s reservoir to dip into. This morning I’m praying there is, because the sunrise is barely visible, almost blacked out by a blanket of smoke.

How to handle shortage, particularly of water but also other things like electrical power and clean air, has been on my mind a great deal this summer. Some of my neighbors are still watering their lawns in midday, the worst time for losses to evaporation. Many of the growers around us are also irrigating then, whether out of ignorance or the need not to pay their irrigators overtime for the hours it takes to start water, check sprinklers and (later) shut it down—who knows?

Shortage is a community issue, but we act as individuals until our needs as members of the community are awakened. How do we awaken our neighbors to their membership in us? That’s the question.

For some of that difficulty, I’d like to blame the churches. Mine waters its lawn in the middle of the day because the man who does it only has so many hours he can work. But bigger than that is the missed mission: so many churches have rendered themselves down to small places, where individuals can feel their connection to God. How many churches expand us upward into the community of God’s people?

It’s a tough row to hoe with Americans, I agree. We’ll be glad to let the churches connect us to our patriotic selves as Americans, especially when threatened by foreigners perceived as enemies, like churches did with the 9/11 crashes of jets by terrorists. But we Americans are suspicious of anyone or any group that might want us to identify with a community beyond our national borders, especially as long as Americans see themselves on top of the pile. If your church has managed to do that, my hat is off to you.

That’s really why the churches held back in times of American strife in the past. I was revisiting the 1960s and ’70s in my mind Saturday night after watching my Peter, Paul & Mary DVD. Whether it was the civil rights movement, the efforts to stop the war in Vietnam, the women’s movement, or the early warnings from environmentalists about climate change, all of these movements challenged the identity of Americans as top dogs, successful beyond belief, holders of unlimited abundance. Supreme. Unquestionable.

So times of shortage are hard on us. They make us question ourselves, which is the one thing Americans thought we were free of.

If you don’t acknowledge the shortage, however, you save yourself that discomfort. As the shortages proceed to impinge on others, however, you may have to blinder yourself not to feel their discomfort. I’m thinking here about the shortage of affordable housing, the evictions pending and the burgeoning population of homeless people. This crisis is really more about the expense of housing than the shortage of roofs. When our discomfort gets great enough, we’ll build more roofs, but leave the expense question to the landlords. The primacy of landownership (and the right to make money from it) will be the last thing we’ll put on the question block.

So here we have it: smoke on the eastern horizon, reservoirs drying up. Will we stop watering our lawns in the afternoon? Will we let them turn brown? Or would we rather burn than admit we can’t have it all?

Trudy Wischemann is a patriotic member of the community of God who writes. You can send her your singed thoughts c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247 or visit and leave a comment there.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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