Friday, October 10, 2014

We do this for the water

Inspired by Sharon Day* and the women who walk to the rivers and sing and pray blessings to them every week,** I've been walking to the Olentangy River the past couple of Sundays. It's been a great opportunity to get outside and walk, to see a beautiful spot right in my little town, and to remember the ways in which I'm connected with all around me.

Looking downstream, Olentangy River
As my friend Pomegranate says: all water touches all water.

Clouds on the river
When I stand by the river and make my offerings, I imagine sending blessings to all my loved ones who live so far away--that despite the miles between us, we are connected through the water, and I can touch them and be touched by them as I pray and sing.

Looking upstream, Olentangy River
The river is beautiful. So beautiful that recently our city put up a swing on its banks for people to stop and sit and enjoy watching the water go by.

Looking across the Olentangy
I've really enjoyed noticing the changes that come with the change in seasons, looking around at the trees and grass, smelling the change in the air, listening to the birds and bugs and wondering about their winter preparations.

This woolly bear caterpillar was so fuzzy
I couldn't get a sharp picture of him (ha!)

Delicate and hearty diasies
Water is life.

On campus--a reminder of the gift
I'm glad to see that there are people in my community who are looking after the river and helping it be healthy: the Olentangy Watershed Alliance. I hope to be able to join in on their activities soon!

At first I thought it was a plastic bag... It's a SNAKESKIN!
Time to shed our skins and grow into something new...
Water, we thank you. Water, we respect you. Water, we love you.


*Back in 2013, Sharon Day and others walked the length of the Mississippi River to raise awareness and speak out on behalf of the health of the longest, most storied river in the United States. THEY WALKED THE LENGTH OF THE MISSISSIPPI, Y'ALL. And that's not the only river Sharon has walked. Back in the spring of this year, I met my friend Martha in Cincinnati and we joined Sharon and a few others to walk along the Ohio River for a day. It was an amazing experience.

We walked in relay style, each person taking a turn of .6 or .8 of a mile, walking FAST--about 3 or 4 miles per hour, about the same as the speed of the river. And we were to move like the river--never stopping, never turning back, always moving forward (even when we handed off to the next walker). And as we walked, we prayed for the river, or just thought about it real hard, or sang to it. We carried an eagle feather and a copper bucket of water gathered from the beginning point of the river, the bucket covered with a beautiful cloth (and a GPS tracker attached to its handle). We made about 30 miles that day, passing more coal-fired power plants than I ever would have imagined along the waterway that supplies so many people with drinking water.

Liquid is heavy; a gallon of milk from the grocery store sometimes seems tricky to lift and maneuver. But on that day, the water bucket was light. On one of my turns, I noticed that it felt like carrying a baby--a burden, yes, but a sweet one. Sometimes I would hear a little slosh in the bucket. It felt like the water was talking to me, encouraging me.

I'm so grateful for the women I walked with that day: Sharon Day, Martha Viehmann, Barb Baker-LaRush, Lee Taylor, Tracey Gokey Jones, Laura Gokey Koehler, and Judith (whose last name I did not get). Laura brought her son Trevor, who carried the eagle staff, and Laura & Tracey discovered that their parents are from the same reservation as Barb's parents and they have ancestors in common. "All my relations," yes.

** If you'd like to keep up with Sharon's river adventures and see photos of the different places where people all over North America are praying for the water each Sunday, log in to Facebook and go to the "Mississippi River Water Walk 2013" page. It's got information on Sharon's current project, which is walking the St. Louis River. If you'd like to support Sharon's projects, go to Nibi Walk's donation page. Sharon does all of this on a shoestring budget, making do and being careful with resources. (She is also the director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, a group in Minneapolis doing amazing work.)

It's inspiring and strengthening, in the face of a serious lack of attention to water issues by people in power (or, worse, a tendency to enact policies that favor corporations over water health and human health and earth health), to see that there are some people who are remembering the water and trying to do things to help.

1 comment:

  1. Love this, Karen. Love you! Thanks for this inspiration. May you never thirst. :-)