Last week I visited Maria. She lives in the tiny, remote hilltop community of Rancho Pando. She’s lived there all her life, in her small house with her big family, in a world where clean water and healthcare and education have never been givens, and more often than not were impossibilities.
Three years ago, though, a big miracle happened. After a long summer of hard work, we loaded up the buses, fired up the grills, and threw a big ol’ fiesta to celebrate the day Rancho Pando completed their water system. Clean, abundant water, all day every day, at the turn of tap inside every home. No more trips to the river, no more infants dying from diarrhea, no more kidney infections. It was my first water inauguration, a beautiful day, and a big, big miracle.
And, as we visited, Maria talked about all those things – how her life and the lives of all her family members would never be the same. How lives were changed, and even saved, by the clean, flowing water. But she also talked about her shower – an add-on, more than anything, just a simple pipe and a shower head – and her face flushed with a smile. “You know,” she laughed, “what’s so great is that now we can bathe naked! You know, just…well, naked. It’s just so lovely.”
My first thought was, “Well how on earth else do you bathe?” Then came the onslaught of forgotten images, memories of a community that not only drank river water, but also had to use its shallow, muddy flow to bathe and clean and wash in complete public view.
Of course she never bathed naked – she had never had the privacy to do so. Just a lifetime of “scrub-under-her-shirt” and walking home in dripping wet knee-length skirts, denied the simple pleasure of an ol’ fashioned, butt-naked scrub down.
And as the conversation turned I thought to myself that this, too, was a miracle. Maybe a little miracle, maybe an everyday miracle, but a miracle nonetheless. Bathing naked. It’s a miracle.