From Becoming Rooted: One Hundred Days of Reconnecting with Sacred Earth by Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley [Used with permission]
WATER, SACRED TO US ALL
When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.
For several years, we packed up our kids and a few belongings in an old van and traveled from one Indian reservation to another as we served Indigenous people in a variety of ways. On our trips, we learned in new ways the way that water is sacred to America’s Indigenous people. Water is sacred to us all.
One year, we were honored to be present for a blessing ceremony on the Big Grassy Reserve in Ontario, Canada. In the early spring, the Ojibwe community blesses the lake. They say prayers, sing songs, and speak words to reestablish any lost connection in that great circle of life, which includes the people and the fish and the lake.
Across Turtle Island is Hopiland. In the Bean Dance, as with most ceremonies among the peoples of the Southwest, the Hopi nation prays for rain. And I think that’s about all the Hopi would like said about that. With deep gratitude to the Hopi, we were their guests for the Bean Dance.
Traditionally, Cherokee people do a going-to-water ceremony, during which songs are sung in the morning to greet the day at the creek or river’s edge or next to a spring. These ceremonies continue to this day. I am among those who continue to practice the Cherokee water ceremony, if even in a small way.
Among the Pacific Northwest nations of Indigenous peoples, borders disappear during their annual Canoe Journey. Canoe Journey is a chance for those various tribal peoples to reestablish themselves once again. The Pacific Ocean, with its bays and inlets and beaches, has provided so much for the people over millennia.
You have a daily relationship with water. Perhaps we all can agree on a few simple truths:
• Our aquifers are being over pumped well beyond their recharge rates.
• Rising temperatures are boosting evaporation rates.
• Rainfall patterns are now severely altered, and inadequate snowmelts are not properly feeding rivers and streams in the dry season.
• Water tables are falling, with whole lakes now disappearing.
• Glaciers are melting at alarming rates. The tundra is melting.
• Water shortages translate to food shortages.
• Global water consumption doubles about every twenty years. The UN expects demand to outstrip supply by 30 percent in 2040.
• Global corporate opportunists, who see the absolute devastation coming, are attempting to buy up the world’s water supplies for profit.
Water is sacred. No one can live without water.
Savor water enough to save it for everyone. Today, try to use less water as you wash, cook, or clean. Become active politically on behalf of water.
[An added note from Randy Woodley]:
Each of us has a relationship with water. The relationship may be built upon respect and care or perhaps on disrespect and carelessness, but we are all in a relationship with God’s good gift of water. What is your relationship with water today and every day? While it is estimated that residential water use is only about 10% and industry uses about 20%, the remaining 70% is used by big agriculture! Big Ag also wastes the most water and pollutes the lion’s share of our most precious resource.
While it is important for each of us to do everything we can personally, we must also act corporately within the world’s systems in order to save water. What can you and your church, or other affinity groups do to protect the earth’s water? If you care-act! Perhaps you are already acting on behalf of water. If you or your group are active for the rights of water, what can you do to share that model to inspire others? When we respect water, we are respecting and preserving the whole community of creation. When we respect the whole community of creation, or any part of it, we are respecting and honoring the Creator.
Rev. Dr. Randy Woodley, PhD is a farmer, activist/scholar, distinguished speaker, teacher, author and wisdom keeper. Dr. Woodley currently serves as Distinguished Professor of Faith and Culture at Portland Seminary. He and his wife are Co-sustainers of Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice and Eloheh Farm & Seeds in Yamhill, Oregon. www.eloheh.org
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This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.