What Does Water Mean To You?

by Lisa DeRosa

by Lisa DeRosa

Today is a gift from our loving God. Today is unlike any other day. Today is an opportunity. God’s mercies are new this morning. His love is unending.

This is the truth that I need as I write this today. When I feel overwhelmed, depressed and anxious, which is most days, I need this truth. Just for today. Just this 24 hours. Today, I am choosing to focus on and share about water because yesterday (March 22nd) was World Water Day. In choosing this one thing today, I know that I will have the capacity to dive into it with God’s help.

This year, the UN is asking: “What does water mean to you?” as part of its campaign for increasing awareness of the huge water issues on our earth. UN Water Facts provides staggering information. We can’t deny it any longer. Some that I found particularly interesting are:

Human Rights

  • “Indigenous and tribal peoples care for an estimated 22% of the Earth’s surface, and protect nearly 80% of the remaining biodiversity on the planet, while representing only 5% of the world’s population (ILO, 2017).”

Water, Food and Energy

  • “Agriculture (including irrigation, livestock and aquaculture) is by far the largest water consumer, accounting for 69% of annual water withdrawals globally. Industry (including power generation) accounts for 19% and households for 12%. (FAO, AQUASTAT)”

Disasters

  • “Around 74% of all natural disasters between 2001 and 2018 were water-related and during the past 20 years, the total number of deaths caused only by floods and droughts exceeded 166,000, while floods and droughts affected over three billion people, and caused total economic damage of almost US$700 billion. (UN WWDR, 2020).”

#Water2Me

WWD2021 water2me card square 01

Water is essential for life on earth. I think we all know that, but don’t tend to recognize its importance until we are not able to turn on the faucet, the shower, or need to boil our water so it is safe to use/drink. We rely on pipes to carry water to our household for convenience and take for granted the fact that so many people around the world have to walk for miles to reach water that they then have to carry back home to boil or filter so that it is safe to drink/use.

God, thank you for running water. Thank you for filters that remove toxins and unhealthy particles from the water that I have access to. Please bring justice, hope, and clean water to those who do not experience this on a daily basis. Amen.

Water is not only essential, but it is enjoyable! My favorite memories of growing up were trips to Lake Tahoe, California as our family and extended family stayed in a cabin on the lake during summer vacation. We would fish, raft, swim and build sand castles on the beach. Now that I am older, water helps me to calm down, breathe deeper, and relax. This last year, water meant freedom! After months of lockdown orders, I was able to venture to a local lake and swim carefree of other people being close to me, allowing the physical touch of the water to flow over me. It really helped me feel like I was free from the confines of my home during that time.

I asked others to share, for their voices to be heard, their answers to the question: “What does water mean to you?”.

“Our traditional North American Indigenous people often refer to water as “the first medicine.” Water, in my tradition, and well, every Indigenous tradition I know, is considered sacred. What do I mean by “sacred” in this context? I mean every ocean, every lake, every bog and slew and estuary, every creek, every waterfall, every spring and even the rain, perhaps especially the rain, are considered as gifts from Great Mystery. Many American Indigenous peoples have ceremonies that involve water or reference water. Perhaps this is true of all peoples, including Western Europeans. I think maybe that many of the European tribes, (after all, we are all Indigenous from somewhere) also understood water’s sacredness at one point in their history. I also think, their descendants have largely forgotten just how important, and just how sacred water was and continues to be.”

-taken from the Eloheh Lenten Devotional 2021, used with permission.

“I didn’t know the waters I grew up around. The highways and the faucets and the dams taught me not to notice the land around me, and therefore, not to notice my body or my own story. But I have been learning the past handful of years that when I connect with the land, I find myself as one with a story rooted in water—the rivers, lakes, glaciers, and the ocean. And when I get to know these waters, I learn their pain and the struggles they suffer, like me, under this occupying colonial society. And I find that my own search for connection, being held in community, and freely being myself are bound up in and inseparable from working with these waters to be free again. I want to swim in a river clean of agricultural fertilizers and logging herbicides without having to hike high up to get upstream of where those are happening. I want to drink from a spring without worrying about car pollutants being leached into the soil. I want to walk beside creeks full of salmon without grieving for the people getting sick from consuming their poisoned bodies. In ways such as these is water so profoundly foundational to life that I’ve discovered, along with others with stories not unlike mine, that water is church. We have decided to find spiritual family amongst each other and with the herons, the otters, eagles, elk, salmon, and countless others who’ve also decided they cannot find true life outside of good, clean water. The gifts that water wants to share with us are always there, readily available for those who are ready to notice them.”

—leucanthemum, Duwamish River, Sprouting Moon, used with permission.

“Water and spirit course through the biblical story just like they do in our bodies. In the beginning, the Spirit hovers over the waters of the unformed world like an expectant mother nurturing the life in her womb. In the middle, Jesus furthers the connection between water and Spirit when he declares, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” At the end, when heaven and earth are made one, the New Jerusalem is split by the river of the water of life. We must remember that our lives are water and Spirit, and we live drip by drip. Every drink, every breath, is a baptism. I often think that if I spent my life contemplating water, it would be a life well spent.”
James Amadon, Circlewood

As we have focused on Time to Heal, I know that our earth needs healing too. There are so many different areas that this is true, but just for today, the issues surrounding our water issues is on my heart and I ask for God’s healing power for our water crises.

I came across this prayer by Christine for World Water Day. Please check it out!

Another great resource for how to efficiently water landscape.

What does water mean to you? Share with us in a comment below.


Feature photo above includes photos by Manki Kim, Aaron Burden, Kazuend, Erik Dungan, and mrjn Photography on unsplash.com

UN Campaign image above used with permission.

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