7 minutes reading time (1373 words)

Hello Water

A Meditation on 'Water the Source of Life' - by Noel Bradley 

The recent good weather has left Ireland with a water shortage and consequently a restriction and even a ban in the Republic of Ireland on using water with a hose. It happens also that this Sunday is the Feast of Corpus Christi and Holy Wells Sunday. The Vatican has also issued a document 'Water the Source of Life' ( March 30th). Within the document we are asked to contemplate water, to reverence it, to respect it, to preserve and protect it.

Bredagh River Walk, Moville, Co Donegal 

Recently I listened to a talk by Fr. Brian Grogan s.j. on water and during it he mentioned that while on a visit 40 yrs ago to Somalia in Africa, where it is very hot and on the edge of the desert, a man came to see him and Brian offered him a glass of water. To his surprise the man did not gulp it down but held it reverently. He drank it slowly and with awareness. It struck Brian very forcefully and he remembers it to this day. He also mentioned a Benedictine monk who looked after bees for 40 yrs and then one day he really looked at one resting and really saw it for the first time. He got caught up in the mystery of it, as it were. The document is asking us to catch on like this to the mystery of water and appreciate it and not to use it just as a utility but with reverence. He quotes the encyclical letter 'Laudato si' saying that God is looking at and after things 'with great affection'. 

Brian then went on to have a dialogue with water.  I am borrowing and adapting it here for people to try. (By the way this is not crazy. People talk to their animals all the time. St. Francis talked to the flowers, birds and his 'brother ass' and would ring the Church bell to get people to come out and look at the moon).

Sunday, 14 June 2020 is also Holy Wells Sunday. Why not consider walking to your closest Holy Well, sit a while, say a prayer and read this reflection.

I'm delighted to meet you 

The meditation went something like this:

I might begin by saying "I'm delighted to see you and grateful too now that I have taken the time to notice". Water might say "I am delighted to see you too". I might say "we humans are here on the planet about 200,000 years". "How long are you here?" "I'm here about 4 billion years" says water, "I think I am only on this planet and no other; you can imagine that I would be very excited if I was found on any other planet. I'm responsible for all plants, flowers and trees and vegetation. I keep them all alive. I was there when God's Spirit hovered over the 'formless void' and 'darkness' (Genesis 1:1). I was there as raw material for everything that evolved". I might say "Yes, and I am beginningto appreciate you more and more, especially as I grow older, in the sea around me, in rivers, clouds, ice, lakes. I love the play of light on Lough Swilly or the Foyle". "Yes, I am very adaptable. I'm in bottles, reservoirs, taps, turbines, nuclear adaptors, hydro-electric dams, on your wind screen and when you wash your hands, which is often during these days of Covid 19. Don't forget the tears; there are a lot of tears at this time. I am present there too. You yourself are 70% water and you were conceived in an amniotic fluid in your mothers womb. Don't forget that human beings emerged from the water of the sea, with the emergence of human life" Then I might ask "What is your secret?" Water might say "I love to serve. I see myself as the servant of God and God is very pleased with me. My love is totally indiscriminate. As rain I fall on the just and unjust, the good and the bad, just pouring down on all".

I might say "You are sad too" "Yes I am because of lack of respect. I'm misused and abused. I am polluted and poisoned with chemicals. Look at the oceans and rivers with plastics and rubbish and micro-beads. I wonder how long we will be called 'a small blue planet'. I'm sad because I bring sickness now, especially to small children who are poor. Water is poisoned. I grieve for them. Do you know that only 1.2% of the world's water is now drinkable? That 2.5 billion people (35% of world's population) lack proper sanitation! Don't talk to them about hand washing. Some people have never seen clean water. Imagine not being able ever to bathe your child in water! When there is water available to them they have to walk miles to get it and then carry it back home. Also one third of schools lack adequate water which means a lot of poor children are not encouraged to go. Then you have the fact that 25% of food that is cooked with water in our 'developed' world is now wasted.Yes, I am sad and very humiliated. You have a term for all this now: 'water stress' since so many people especially poor people are suffering from my mistreatment and abuse.

I might be moved to ask "What ought I to do". Water might say 'live more simply, respect me, avoid pollution, put money into conserving water and you will save much more in regard to general health, don't privatize water it will be an injustice to the poor. They can't afford to buy water or pay high water charges. Check out all the tips about saving water (e.g. in showers, in washing machines, taps etc). 

Fr. Brian went on to say that there are 3000 holy well in Ireland. That would be roughly 100 per county. When the Irish first came to Ireland they had a druidic religion which believed that God dwelt in rivers and wells. They were sacred places. St. Patrick blessed these places and they became Holy wells. He suggests that we might visit a local well on Sunday or on a day at your convenience and sit a while and contemplate water. 

If you can't do that put a glass of water on the table and ponder and contemplate the mystery of it for a while. You might think of water in the Bible. Without water there would be no salvation history. There would be no civilization even. Water is mentioned in the Garden of Eden story, Noah and the flood, water in the desert, the crossing of the Red sea. There was the water at Jesus' baptism (and the words 'This is my beloved son'), water at the wedding of Cana, the woman at the well when Jesus asked for a drink and said he would give her 'living water', there is the image of the compassion of God in the falling rain, and the words of Jesus 'come tome all you who are thirsty' and the 'the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside, welling up toeternal life (John 4:14). There is the prayer at Mass 'by the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ'. We are caught up in the mystery of the divinization of all creation. 'Creation is ordered to divinization' as Laudato si says. So let your imagination role with some of this imagery. Blessed are you Lord God of All creation!

Noel Bradley, Laudato si group, Derry diocese.

Contact Noel at:

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