Water, Water Everywhere
by Pat Washburn

I was in Florida when my house flooded. I returned home, after the usual flight delays and unscheduled stops, to find that two rooms, two closets and the garage had taken on 8 inches of dirty, disgusting water. If you know houses, you'll know what that meant. Walls, insulation, carpet - all have to go. Insurance covers nothing.

It could have been worse. A quarter-mile down the street, the bridge washed out. A couple had driven over it to the variety store at the corner. They didn't finish the return trip. She made it out of the marsh; he didn't.

My sorrow is nothing compared to hers. Still, I'm angry and sad. This feeling of invasion is far worse than what I felt when someone broke in and stole my jewelry in July (yes, it's been quite a year). That was just stuff; this is the very fabric of my home.

Why did this happen? A Christian would say it was an Act of God, and urge me to search my soul for sin. A fatalist would shrug and say, "It happens." (Or something more vulgar.)

As a Pagan, I believe in something called the Threefold Rule. It's like the Golden Rule, but tripled. If you, through your actions and speech, send the energy of a certain quality - generosity, let's say - into the world, you'll get back generosity three times.

An example: An environmentalist friend once tried to damage some equipment being used to cut trees where he lived. Within a week his car, toilet and computer all broke.

I don't know what the flood meant for the hundreds of others who were affected. But for me, it was the completion of a threefold return.

Earlier this year, I broke up with a man I'd loved. That wasn't wrong - in fact, it was necessary - but I did it abruptly and deceptively, yanking away the support system I'd become to him.

Three times since then, my own support system has been disrupted. My wallet was stolen, which was minor but unpleasant. My house was burglarized (quite scary), then flooded (really distasteful).

I've taken what I had coming. But at the same time, I've also seen a threefold return from people to whom I'd given friendship and shared my knowledge.

They've driven flooded roads to get to my house when I couldn't; helped me rip up carpet; given me hugs and backrubs and chocolate.

According to the government, I'm a disaster victim. At some point, I'll have to squander a lot of my mythical spare money to fix this place. But right now, I feel pretty well taken care of.

Published October 28, 1996
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