"Remember that water is an extension of you. Water is sacred. If you find yourself near a body of water, take a pause to listen and sense the wonder and awe and gaze upon your reflection there."
Water. H2O. That crystal-like and colorful element which refreshes the body on a hot summer day and demands humility upon each crashing wave. What a powerful natural resource, integral to our development and existence since the dawn of the earth.
Villages and roads to new worlds were established and traveled along the paths leading to water. How fitting, then, to recognize our bodies as special compositions of this invaluable resource. Our biological control center, the brain directing neurons and signals to the rest of the body, and our hearts pumping blood through our veins, is 73% water.
When peering off the shore into the depths of the lake, you can’t ignore the magical reflection of your face looking back at you. We can see ourselves in the earth, in water. This is not happenstance.
This gentle yet prophetic declaration from Mother Nature herself is to ground us again and again that how we engage with the earth is how we tend to ourselves. So why is it, then, that our relationship with this sustaining element, and our twin in makeup, is laden with power struggles, extraction and depletion, pollution and scarcity?
Pollution from industrial waste and consumer plastic use continues to threaten access to clean and purified water. Between agriculture and data centers as examples of our incessant control, or lack thereof, of natural resources, we tell the water what it must be, the rate of consumption driven by the value of the dollar.
Perhaps what we are missing in the grand scheme of water resource management at all levels of our economy and society is the worldview which awakens our relationship to the natural world. If we don’t change our approach, then scarcity will be all that we have left.
I think it is time we return to the acknowledgement of the sacred presence of water, to let the force live as it may be, listening reverently and responding respectfully. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer speaks to this transition to the sacred acknowledgement, which she found in her language of the Ojibwe people. She writes how the animated language brings life to the body of water held in a word. “To be a bay holds the wonder that, for this moment, the living water has decided to shelter itself between these shores, conversing with cedar roots and a flock of baby mergansers. Because it could do otherwise - become a stream or an ocean or a waterfall . . .”
It is innate in us to invoke a reverence and awe when we become aware of the sacred around us, and in us. If water is an extension of ourselves, what does our current predicament say about how we think of our own bodies? Why do we continue to press beyond natural and healthy limits with the rapid advancement of technology? When will we connect deeply enough to notice when we might be going too far?
The next time you fill up a glass of water to drink, observe its form. Become aware of what you notice. And as you tip the glass to your mouth and allow the water to flow into your body, notice the sense of refreshness you encounter.
Remember that water is an extension of you. Water is sacred. If you find yourself near a body of water, take a pause to listen and sense the wonder and awe and gaze upon your reflection there.
Perhaps as this acknowledgement of the sacred, and the shift away from the oppressive expression of power that scarcity invokes in us, begins to take shape and form in our spheres of influence, then we can learn again how to tend for our natural resources in a transformative way.
What could it look like for us to tend to water in companionship with the root systems of trees, the sky, the aquifers? Maybe the path to purifying our waters and preserving this resource is to release, let the water live and show us the way.
*To read the full version of this article, visit Charity's website here.