Prime the Pump


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A young woman lost in the desert made her way to an old weather-beaten, abandoned, home in the distance. Searching for water, she came upon a pump outside the house and began furiously pumping  for water. After several attempts she saw that nothing was flowing. Her eye saw a small jug topped with a cork and a hastily scribbled note underneath. “You have to prime the pump with water first. When you’re finished, refill the jug for someone else.”


The young woman sat and pondered her options. If she drank the water, her thirst would be gone. However, if she followed the note’s instructions, all the water could be lost on a pump that might not work. Sweating profusely, she listened to her frightened pounding heart.


She chose to follow the directions on the note and poured the entire jug of water down the rusty pump. She pumped furiously! After some time water gushed forth. She was so grateful, she corked the jug after filling it full again, then added these words to the note: “Just do it. It really, really works!”


Each of us have decisions to make over the course of our lives. Like the woman in the story, we have a choice. We can drink from the jug, slaking our thirst and taking instant gratification. Alternately, we can choose to step out in faith and prime the pump, helping others who are likely to follow.


The choices we make are in our hands.


Adapted from a story by Angela Davis