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A Glimpse of Grace from a Frozen Water Pipe!

    It has been an usually cold winter this year due to an arctic vortex that has taken a liking to the eastern half of the United States. As a consequence, our high temperatures this winter have frequently hovered in the single digits, Fahrenheit. Wind chills, which are “cold temperatures with a press agent”, have plummeted into double digits below zero, Fahrenheit.
    Early one morning my wife went into the bathroom after a particularly cold night of howling winds and turned on a faucet to the sink. Nothing came out. Not even air. She tried again. Still nothing. She called to me and I tried a different bathroom faucet with no more luck than she had. In all of my years, this had never happened to me before.
    The first thought that crossed my mind was that the problem had to be with our reverse osmosis water system. I vaguely remembered when it was installed I asking the service representative how I would know when it was time to change the filters. He told that that was easy. We would know because the water would simply quite coming out of our faucets. So, I thought to myself, no water=change filters.
    Off to a You Tube tutorial to learn how to change the water filters. I changed the two filters with a minimum amount of mess. Tried the faucets. Still no water! Damn! What next? You may have guessed it, call a plumber.
    I have an very good relationship my local plumber because I learned long ago that there are two ways I can fix something. I can fix it and then call “The Man” to fix it OR, I can simply call “The Man” and simple save myself a lot of aggravation.  I’ve call my “plumber Man” so often that we’re on not only a name basis but a nicknamed basis!
    When he arrived the plumber checked things out, confirmed that I had installed the reverse osmosis filters correctly and diagnosed the problem as a frozen water pipe. “Impossible,” I thought. I’ve never had a frozen water pipe in my entire life! But, as he followed the various water lines it seemed that I indeed did have a frozen water pipe.
    He cut a hole in our drywall about four inches from the ceiling to expose the troubled pipe. It was frozen! You could see the frost around it. As he worked on the problem I asked him how this could have happened as the house was more than sixty years old and there was no evidence of this kind of problem happening before now. Surely over the years, I reasoned, the house had seen winters just as cold as this one AND without the benefit of central heat.
    “Have you had work done down here recently?” he asked. I thought a bit and then remembered that we had a baseboard dewatering system put in last summer. “I suspect,” he concluded, “that the new drywall is more insulated than the old drywall was. The water pipe was sealed off from internal air circulation that would have offset the outside temperature.”
    It all made perfect and maddening sense. Once again, an example of unintended consequences. Fix one problem and create a new one! Isolated and self-contained the water pipe froze—and I might add, broke—for the first time in the life of the house!
    After the plumber left I bought a cold air register vent to cover the hole in my drywall. I wanted to ensure circulation of air and save a little money. As I screwed the vent into place a thought crossed my mind. The water pipe was a parable about us. When we are sealed off from one another, isolated and insulated in our own little worlds with our own little concerns, we can become cold inside. The movement of God’s spirit within us slowly hardens until we find ourselves “frozen.”
    We were made for each other, to be in community, to be part of something greater than ourselves. Happiness, true happiness, is found not in having but in giving ourselves away. And that, my friends, is a glimpse of grace.

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