Tag Archives: Water Communion

Got Water? What Is Water Communion Without Water?

Opening Words “In this land”

In a land that knows the effects of water deprivation, of soil dry, cracked, and barren, of parched forests vulnerable in the heat to fire and infestation,

In a land where the racial, ideological and theological differences become weapons for public discourse and the means to retaliation

In a land where one person thrives with abundance while another child goes to bed hungry and their neighbor sleeps in a box at the park,

In a land where consumerism trumps the human right to dignity and respect; a land where a person’s claim to a living wage for a fair days work is fraught with another person’s greed,

In a land where technology advances too quickly, making human interaction burdensome and the sound bites or facebook likes become the expression of the day,

In a land where lingering is lazy and success is measured by the number and size of the toys gathered in the vacation home,

In this land, yes it is in this land, that we gather,
Here in this sanctuary, made holy by your presence,
We gather hungry for something deeper
Something to sustain us in the human strife of daily life.

Here in this hour
Made holy by the mingling of my spirit with yours, we pause
To gaze upon God’s grace as it is known in the face of our fellow travelers.
Spirit of life, love and the holy, we’ve arrived
To see the beauty in each other’s eyes
To fill the longing empty heart
To encounter life in all its foibles and all its glory.

Spirit of life, love and all that is holy
Let us be together in the silent pause of anticipation
As we light this chalice,
As we gaze upon the holy in thy neighbor,
Thy friend.

Reflection “Standing at the Well”

We stand at the well together. The well where thirst is quenched, dreams are born, spirit is replenished.

We gather with anticipation, water in hand, ready to tell the story of our summer sojourn. The story of our pilgrimage to places and people familiar and new, the story captured within, like a letter in a bottle.

We may have approached our summer sojourn with the intention of a pilgrimage, mindful of our distant destination.

Just as a woman in Sudan sets out for a two hour walk to collect water to provide her family with the sustenance for life, we set out on a journey to feed our weary souls, to provide ourselves and our family the spiritual sustenance of life – connections with family and friends, experiencing and resting in the beauty and splendor of creation’s playground, crossing borders to a new culture – a time to be with the stranger and expand our understandings and experiences of how we might live.

Just as the Sudanese woman returned another two hours later with water, so too do we.
Just as the human body knows longing for meaning and purpose, so too does it thirst for water.

Water – the source of life
Water – the substance of a parched life gratified
Water – that which quenches and sustains
Water – the symbol of our stories, our journeys, our values lived

One might say all of life is a pilgrimage, in which we partake blindly, mindfully or as a matter of survival.

How many of us traveled this summer in a drought ridden area?

Who witnessed the corn dying at less than three feet tall, long before the crop could be harvested?

Who witnessed the cattle grazing upon a dry field in search of the occasional green sprig of grass?

Recall this experience or imagine it anew in your mind’s eye.
Recall this drought now, as we sit here, water in hand.

Consider the millions of locations across the globe – Texas, Sudan, Australia, China, Russia and even Greenland, where people and animals, the sentient beings, the plant life, search for water in the barren land.

In my daily sojourn to the church, I drive by a local storefront where people bring car loads of empty bottles to a spigot attached to the side of the building. I witness the weekly sojourn of Mainer’s whose access to clean, safe, and I’m assuming affordable water, is a weekly chore.

Yes, here in Kennebec County.

Further south in Fryeburg, Maine, Nestle Corporation, under the guise of Poland Springs, is suing the town to drill new wells in Denmark and pipe water to their water loading stations.[1]   In arguing “their right to grow market share supersedes the town’s right to control” creations natural resources, Nestle seeks to “turn ordinary water into a billion dollar industry.”[2]

Yes, here in Maine.

This summer while traveling in the Black Hills of SD with family and friend, the spiritual and physical deprivation of the drought was evident throughout the two weeks of travel, but it was my experience in Custer State Park that was transformative.

The contrast of the dry streams amid a homage to a man who decimated the spirit of the indigenous people – the Sioux, Lakota, Cheyenne, Ponca and Arikara People of the plains – was to say the least, painful.

While I walked across the land to the parched buffalo watering hole with my empty bottle ready to retrieve water for today, I was painfully aware of the levels of spiritual and physical drought that were touching my life, my story at that moment in time.

While the lack of rain and the resulting drought were affecting the rivers and streams, fauna and foliage of the Black Hills, the history of genocide and oppression, followed by the lack of opportunity and the continued appropriation of indigenous culture and history by the EuroAmericans, was affecting the spirit of the native people of the plains.

The reality of my summer sojourn sank deeper as we drove through the reservation in the big SUV to our comfortable lives. Lives physically and spiritually sustained by over four generations of Scandinavian pioneers willing to homestead the unforgiving prairie during turbulent times, willing to farm the land taken from the indigenous people.

There on the parched land with the oppressed spirit as my backdrop, I stood face to face with the reality of my privilege; silently greeting the unsuspecting people’s whose shoulders I stand on, as I partake.

Recognizing my privilege, recognizing the brutality by which it was taken, recognizing the ongoing subjugation of people already dispossessed.

There in search of water to tell the story of my travels, the truth of my life on this barren land became a stark telling of spiritual oppression, spiritual thirst and longing.

While white men sold the trinkets and the dolls at every souvenir shop along the way, while the state seeks to sell land of the native people, to break the treaties of my ancestors, I, a white woman, a product of this story of power, oppression and genocide, was perpetuating the illusion at a watering hole in Custer State Park.

The stark truth of it all, as we live from our place of privilege is that we walk upon the land of another, oblivious, complacent or fully aware. We stand on the shoulders of another, the child worker in the cocoa fields of west Africa or cotton fields of Egypt, the Mexicano crossing the dessert to make a living in the service industry so that we might be comfortable in our cotton sheets with a chocolate on our pillow when we arrive at our resting place after a long day’s journey.

Got Water? What is a water communion without water?

It is a communion where we honor our journey, name our spiritual thirst and how it was satiated. We bear witness to our pilgrimage to the well where our parched souls were quenched and nourished.

And

We tell the story of the person who lives a very different pilgrimage to the well, so that we might consider how we are blessed. How we have been graced with abundance, So that we may consider how we will live our days. How will we walk more gently and mindfully so that others might simply live.

This is not an easy task but it is a necessary task. It is never comfortable to stand face to face with the contrast of have and have not. To acknowledge our privilege comes at the cost of another’s dignity and survival.

Yet, is it not better to name it and acknowledge it, so that we may live informed, asking,
How shall I live now?
How shall I love beyond my walls?
How shall I celebrate the oneness of life, the source of life?
How shall I participate in a life that is more sustaining than not?

And, as we consider these questions, as we live them out in our daily action,
may our lived unity with all of humanity, with God’s sentient creatures, never be the same again. Never be the same again.

Let us be together in silence as we consider the journey.

Meditation

I invite each of you to consider what spiritual or physical thirst was quenched by your summer sojourn. You can do this alone, with the person next to you or in conversation with the people with whom you gathered your water.

Consider the location where you collected your water, the people you were with, the moment shared.

Do a bit of theological mining. What is the story within the story? What touched your heart, opened your mind, or brought hands for service into the care of creation? What intentional or unsuspecting modern day pilgrimage served to deepen your journey?

See if you can name what spiritual longing was quenched in ten or less words. It is not the story we are seeking, we hope you will tell this later in fellowship.

We invite you to go deeper, what part of you was opened anew, affirmed or comforted; where were the connections with life and love, humanity and nature made stronger, wiser and richer. Then name this in ten words or less, capture the essence on the piece of paper in your Order of Service. You will be asked to read this as you come forward to add your waters to the collections.

Water Communion

{Water is received in two clear vessels in the front of the sanctuary. Every 5 sharing and pouring will be an empty bottle symbolically poured into the second empty vessel. This vessel will remain empty throughout the collection as a symbol of those who live without water. Every 5th pouring is followed by a couple members of the choir singing a short refrain of ”Bring a little water Sylvie.”

Each empty bottle will have attached a short vignette of a sentient being, vegetation or community, living without access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.

The ratio of water to empty bottle represents the ratio of people living in the world without access to acceptable water. The current world population is 7,036,123,899[3]. At the same time 884,000,000 people lack access to clean water.[4] = ratio of 1/5. A gathered community of 100 will thus need 25 empty bottles with vignettes.}

Blessing

In sharing, we name what is most vital, what we value in our days
In witnessing, we bless the journey of another
In collecting, we see our unity amid our diversity

{Water from each vessel is symbolically taken and poured into a third vessel }

In pouring the water symbolizing drought and deprivation, in pouring the water symbolizing abundance, we acknowledge they are one and the same, without thirst there is no quenching, without longing there is no gratitude.

In mingling of these waters, we are reminded of our oneness with all of creation, our interdependent web of existence.

These waters have known life and death, joy and sorrow, tears and laughter, love and hate, commitment and complacency, damnation and salvation, abundance and deprivation.

These waters have traveled the global atmosphere by the grace of nature and the will of humanity.

Just as water, the sacred source of life
cycles from the ice in Antarctica
to sweat in India, to deserts in Darfur,
to summer pleasures on Sebago lake
to the rainforest habitat of the Amazon,
we too simultaneously experience
and witness the cycle of drought and abundance,
deprivation and privilege, and our place in it.

It is in the sharing and witnessing,
in the collecting and pouring,
and in the mingling of the sacred
that these waters are made holy.

May it be so.

Benediction     

We stand at the well together,
May our unity be the dream which guides our travel
May our daily lives be a pilgrimage to life sustaining for all
And may we live, so that others, may be replenished when they arrive.

[1]www.stopnestlewaters.org/communities/fryeburg-me. September 3, 2012

[2] www.soh2o.org “Save Our Water”

[3] US & World Population Clocks.   www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html. August 30, 2012. 10:27 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

[4] UUSC Water Facts: Water. www.uusc.org. August 30, 2012. 10:27 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.