Ice (Water) Breaker

Happy New Year!

It’s Songkran in Thailand this week!

We took the family down to the moat around the old city in Chiang Mai to see the festival today. It’s got to be the world’s largest water fight! People roam the streets around the moat in their songtaews, pickup trucks and tuk-tuks, with giant barrels of water loaded in the back. Inside the barrels are not only water but also giant blocks of ice or frequently small children, who scoop buckets full of water and hand them to their older accomplices. Any unprotected passer-by is fair game, and we learned that you can even receive a bucketful through an open car window if you’re not careful.

Even on the side streets, locals and shop owners are waiting with water guns, hoses and buckets outside the many shops that line either side of the road. There really isn’t a safe distance at which to pass. They are happy to chase after you to give you a good dousing. One man picked up my daughter and carried her to a bucket where three people set about washing her hair – complete with shampoo! Everyone expects to get wet, and nothing is sacred – not even expensive digital cameras that we were foolish enough to remove from their ziplocked protection pouches.

It’s incredible fun – the “best holiday ever!” according to my youngest – but what I really enjoyed
was the ice-breaking interaction between Thais and farangs. It didn’t matter that we spoke different languages. It didn’t matter that we look different or come from different cultures. Water, ironically, built the bridge between us. It created a whole new language that we could share, because everyone understands the squeal of surprise that occurs when ice water makes contact.

Something special happened today – a blending of cultures, a setting-aside of differences. We found common ground in a water fight and love for our neighbor in a shared smile and a laugh. Could it really be that simple? Could cultures come together just by focusing on similarities rather than differences? May God bless this shared experience and open windows of opportunity for a little Living Water.


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