Healing the Waters of Earth
Clif Trolin, July 28, 2012
Earth Healing Day Focus 2012 ~ 2013
What are you? What am I? Intersecting cycles of water, earth, air and fire, that’s what I am, that’s what you are.
Water—blood, lymph, mucus, sweat, tears, inner oceans tugged by the moon, tides within and tides without. Streaming fluids floating our cells, washing and nourishing through endless riverways of gut and vein and capillary. Moisture pouring in and through and out of you, of me, in the vast poem of the hydrological cycle. You are that. I am that.
~ John Seed and Joanna Macy
Our bodies are 60-70% water. The majority of Earth’s surface is water. But what is the state of that water, water within and water without? It is far more toxic than we care to know! Water is life, but if it is toxic, it is illness and death instead.
One tiny bit of water rests in the palm of my hand.
I bring this to you and with it I bring the entire ocean.
This tiny drop has the power to ease the burning thirst of men;
when spread on the earth, to give life to the seed and the future harvest;
when poured on the fire to quench the blaze.
A tiny drop of water
can cleanse the whole of my impurity when blessed by your forgiveness.
But, O Lord,
more than all this, this tiny drop of water passed over my head
is the symbol of my birth in You.
~ Ishpriya R.S.C.J.
Water is sacred. It is essential for the maintenance of life on Earth. Without water, clean water, all living things die far more quickly than they do when they are without food. Probably ever since the birth of homo sapiens we have used water to cleanse and purify our bodies and souls. Rituals of rebirth, such as baptism and other forms of ceremonial immersion, washing, and sprinkling, use water to symbolize new spiritual awakening. Sweat lodges incorporate the water within us and water in the form of steam to evoke the transformation of consciousness.
It has been said that life is like a huge spider web so that if you touch it anywhere, you set the whole thing trembling. We face this profound fact when we look at the multiple, interconnected issues around water. For example, climate change is the shift in our weather patterns caused by the build up of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere. It results in rising temperatures around the Earth. Rising temperatures warm the oceans and land surfaces and this causes the ice at the poles to melt, thus increasing the volume of water in the oceans. In turn low lying areas then become inundated with water. Warmer oceans also cause more severe and frequent storms resulting in further flooding. But increasing temperatures also result in increasing drought conditions, for example, the drought throughout most of the entire contiguous United States at present. Desertification is a growing problem worldwide. Thus, there is a lack of water for agriculture, and this negatively affects the food supply globally.
One of the main causes of global climate change is the burning of fossil fuels, including coal and oil. Emissions from fossil fuel power plants are the largest source of industrial carbon pollution in the U.S. Gasoline driven automobiles are another major cause of carbon pollution. One quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions is absorbed by the oceans. As dissolved carbon dioxide levels rise, the oceans become more acidic, and this in turn poses a grave threat to the shells of many marine species and to reef structures, which support a quarter of all marine life. Acidification of the oceans could eventually destroy the entire ocean ecosystem, which is the other main source of food beside terrestrial vegetation. As the great naturalist, John Muir, stated: “When you ... change any single thing, you find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to
New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all gold in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
~ Langston Hughes
Native Americans call rivers the blood of Mother Earth. Rivers are one of the main sources of our drinking water and water for irrigation. Yet, we have polluted our rivers around the entire planet with sewage, toxic wastes from industrial plants, radioactive wastes, agricultural chemicals and runoff, and now from the chemicals used in natural gas fracking operations. We have dammed rivers so that entire ecosystems are destroyed and have taken so much water that sometimes, such as in the case of the mighty Colorado, a river no longer reaches its outlet in the sea.
Aquifers, underground layers of material from which groundwater can be extracted by means of wells, are another source of drinking water and water for irrigation. As with river water, increased use due to over population and other demands have caused the water table to sink in many places around the globe below the level that wells are able to easily access the ground water. Furthermore, over use can turn the water brackish as seawater enters the aquifer.
One of the greatest present threats to aquifers and our water supply in general is hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking. Fracking is a mining technique for forcing gas or oil out of underground rock formations, in particular gas contained within layers of shale rock lying from 5,000 to 20,000 feet beneath earth’s surface. Millions of gallons of precious water, which is needed for other purposes, is mixed with sand slurry and more than 600 chemicals and is forced down a pipe under tremendous pressure into the shale below in order to fracture the shale and release the natural gas from within it. In theory the gas will then rise up the drill hole to be stored in tanks on the surface. However, the gas often follows its own course upward polluting groundwater, river water, and the air. Faucets emitting flammable water are a visible result of such operations, but heightened illness in the local communities is a more insidious and widespread outcome. A recent scientific analysis of the chemicals used found that 25% can cause cancer and larger percentages can disrupt the various systems of the body. A multiple county section of Texas with heavy fracking operations is seeing a 25% asthma rate in children. Fracking also releases to the surface deep-earth contaminants that include highly radioactive materials. All of the returning toxic wastewater flows into aquifers, rivers, lakes, and other surface locations.
Water flows from high in the mountains.
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us,
and sustains all life.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Water comes to us, but it does not come to all equally. Beside issues related to geography, there is also the matter of wealth. Water gushes to the wealthy, but it often only trickles to the poor. This situation of haves and have-nots has been exacerbated by the worldwide privatization of water. Touted originally as the solution to water shortages, privatization has been a complete failure in bringing water to those who need it the most because they cannot afford the resultant higher cost. In some places in Latin America the water that comes down from the mountains is owned by private corporations and although it flows past the dwellings of the poor, they cannot touch it. In addition much of that water is being bottled in plastic and sold to feed what has become a mania for bottle water in the developed world. Ironically, bottled water is usually untested while our tap water in the United States is intensively tested by the government. The plastic bottles are produced from petroleum and usually wind up in the landfill or strewn around the Earth, including in the oceans.
And so we come full circle. The oceans are filled with plastic. There are 5 huge gyres of plastic debris in our oceans, one of which is twice the size of Texas. Birds and fish eat it and feed it to their young; they die from the toxins in the plastic or from the destruction of their digestive tracts by these indigestible foreign objects. As an example please witness the following film trailer from Midway Island in the center of the Pacific. Marine life is also harmed or dies when it becomes tangled in the debris. Ninety percent of the garbage in the ocean is made of plastic.
The water crisis with its interconnecting causes and results is ours to face. With all its complexity, it requires a great deal of attention to the details of our personal and social lives. We hold the future of the planet in our collective hands. It is up to us to do our part to heal the precious Waters of our dear Mother Earth.
For a sound blessing to bring healing, restoration, and balance to the waters of Earth click here. This can be used daily or whenever you feel the waters calling you. Repetition builds critical mass. Remember that we are all 60-70% water; so as we offer this blessing to the waters of Earth, know our inner and bodily waters also receive these blessings. Thank you for all your care and efforts for our precious Earth!
Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
to preserve our precious planet.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Notes: All of the poems are taken from Earth Prayers from Around the World, Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon (eds.).
- An excellent source for information on the global water crisis is Maude Barlow’s book Blue Covenant.
- The material on fracking comes from The Hightower Lowdown, July 2012 issue.
- The following are excellent web sites for your further education and for possibilities of water activism:
Food and Water Watch
- For inspiration see what others are doing:
A Compassionate Listener