Water is a symbol that recurs throughout our faith lives. Beginning with Baptism, we encounter water as a symbol of cleansing and of life. In the Gospels, Jesus refers to himself as the "living water" that gives eternal life. He presents Himself as the ultimate satisfaction for those of us who are spiritually "thirsting". It is obvious that the necessity and power of water are recognized by the authors of the Bible and by Jesus Himself.
In times of drought, the importance of water becomes all the more obvious. Suddenly, we see the effect that water has on the land and on ourselves. If you pair the drought with ridiculously high temperatures like we've had in Texas this summer, you definitely feel your body's need for water.
So, it becomes much easier to see the importance of conserving water as well as protecting it's quality by keeping it clean. But, I can think of two instances when "dirty" water can be good.
1) Water dirtied by sin.
In our parish, when the boys and girls are preparing for their First Reconciliation, they are told to write their sins on a special piece of paper that no one else will see. They bring that paper with them to reconciliation and when they are done they place it in a large bowl of clear water on the altar and swirl it around. What they don't know is that the paper is specially made to dissolve in water.
As the boys and girls continue to put their papers in the paper, the water gets cloudier and cloudier. When all the children are done receiving the sacrament, the priest or religious education teacher points out how dirty the water has become. They tell the children, "The water is like your soul. It starts out clean at Baptism and then gets dirty with sin. But, Reconciliation removes that dirt from your soul so that it is sparkling clean again." That "dirty water" is a great reminder of our sinfulness and of our salvation.
2) Water dirtied by us.
Here's another good aspect of "dirty" water. It's called "grey water". Grey water is "water from your bathroom sinks, showers, tubs, and washing machines. It is not water that has come into contact with feces, either from the toilet or from washing diapers. Grey water may contain traces of dirt, food, grease, hair, and certain household cleaning products. While grey water may look “dirty,” it is a safe and even beneficial source of irrigation water in a yard. There are many simple, economical ways to reuse grey water in the landscape." (source: www.greywateraction.org)
Grey water is a great way to use water that usually just goes down the drain. There are many complicated ways to capture grey such as redirecting your washing machine to drain outdoors. Frankly, I'm too lazy for that. Here's something a bit more my speed. Get a plastic dish tub from the dollar store and put it in your sink, tub or shower. When you run the water for any reason, the runoff will be captured so that you can reuse it.
Now, what to do with the water you've saved? Use it to water your outdoor plants and grass! It's not advise able to water your indoor plants with grey water because it might begin to smell. But, not so with outdoor plants! So, water away and feel good about it. That "waste water" has now become "used water"!