About cows, and starfish, and roses, there is no
argument. They die, after all.
But water is a question, so many living things in it,
but what is it, itself, living or not? Oh gleaming
generosity, how can they write you out?
~ Mary Oliver, an excerpt from the poem called 'Some Things, Say the Wise Ones'
I've found myself wondering if water holds love. I feel it in my mouth and on the inner edges of my eyelids. There is a general sense of humidity about my skin. My palms and feet experience a sense of dampness. In the proximity of others I get the sense of a humidity that we create together. Does this humidity hold love?
When a drink of water meets my thirst it is a satisfaction and a silence beyond description. Water. It represents both a need and an ultimate fulfillment.
Water comes to me from the natural world, and through avenues of human transportation to slake my thirst, bathe my body, and transport my shit. Then this water rejoins nature by evaporation from my skin and the moisture in my breath, as well as back through structures of human-made technology to rejoin the world's waterways: the lakes, rivers, streams and oceans.
And the water that leaves my toilet or goes down my drain goes on its own journey to meet the water that has left your toilet and has gone down your drain. This water finds its way toward the lakes, rivers, streams and oceans, wrapping the world in a global hug of water and humidity, our biosphere.
When I am in a room with other people we are all exchanging the moistness of our exhalations, knowing one another intimately, if impersonally. Moisture from my body comes out through my nose or mouth, and becomes dispersed in the air where it may find itself traveling very deeply into your body on your inhalation, or it might just play around in your nose or mouth for a while and then come out again, perhaps eager to explore more. But yes, we are close: much closer than we sometimes realize.
The beautiful scent of a flower is a love note from the water contained in the cells of the flower to the water in the receptive cells in my nose. And the scent of my lover is also a love letter from the water in his cells to the water in mine. These smells can also speak of illness. A rank smell coming from someone might be a message from the water in the cells speaking of disease, even calling for help. It could be a gesture of love desiring help for the afflicted body. And the smells of death might be a warning.
This generous water (as Mary Oliver called it) supports the playground of our lives. Water supports incredible abundance and diversity in life, and our actions whether helpful or harmful are aided by this same water. Can we learn to respect and honor the miraculous gift of water for our lives? It is us and it empowers us.
The water in the Gulf of Mexico is crying. I get the sense that water loves to play with our life forms. We are so intimate with it! Every birth is reveled in by water, and every death is an opportunity for renewal for water. And water also contains the current disaster in the Gulf. I feel ashamed because I am a part of humanity that busted that hole in the floor of the ocean where too much uncontrolled oil is leaking. The water is now holding giant clouds of oil and dispersant where marine life used to frolic, mate and live. The water is supporting the great globs of oil that birds are unknowingly diving into. The water-filled bodies of birds want to feed their families, and instead of a beakful of fresh Gulf seafood, many are getting a mouthful of oil. Water holds the bodies of these suffering birds. As I offer my tears to this water, it is water that forms my tears.
* With gratitude to Rev. Hogetsu Laurie Belzer for her inspiring Dharma talk on "Swimming in the Samadhi of Water” at Ancient Dragon Zen Gate. *
** This article is fulfills part of the 21.5.800 Writing and Yoga Challenge. **
*** Simul-posted at Elephant Journal ***