Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Imagine The Shift: "Going to Water" - On the 20th Anniversary of World Water Day

Friday, March 22, 2013

[Thank you to friend and sister Earth-lover, Dawn Kirk,
for permission to share her blog here at Earth Pilgrim.
You'll find a link to her blog at the end.]

(Going to the Water in Cherokee)
A recent summer while in the Smoky Mountains and Cherokee, NC, I learned of the Cherokee ritual of "going to water." 

Early each morning the Cherokee would wade out waist deep into the river where they would throw water over their head and ask that any thoughts or feelings that hindered them from being closer to God be taken away.  (Note: Their God was not a caucasian, white-haired elder fellow casting people into hell from his heavenly throne. Nor was "He" to my knowledge used legislatively to administer or sway political POV's and policies.)  They would also ask that thoughts or feelings hindering them from being closer to all their brothers and sisters on earth, and the animals of earth be also taken. (from Living Stories of the Cherokee by Freeman Owle.)

What does your 'going to water' involve?

Mine revolves around showering, flushing, brushing (my teeeth), perking and washing but not cleansing or forgiving in the Cherokee way.  Are your associations similar?  These aspects of going to the water have more to do with one's exterior than interior, don't they?

There are times when instead of going to the water the water comes to us as happened to Nashville and many TN communities during the flood of 2010.  This was followed by the tsunami in Japan, flooding in New England, along the Mississippi then Russia where 100 were killed in a flood and more recently in the Northeast with  Hurricane Sandy

Then there are times when the water doesn't come at all as has been evidenced more recently through drought resulting in loss of crops and livestock.  Even wildlife suffers in ways I was not aware.  Last summer while taking a baby raccoon to Walden's Puddle, the local wildlife rehab sanctuary, a woman arrived with a frail fawn in her arms.  She had found this lifeless animal immobile in the middle of the road.  The technician said this was an increasing problem with the drought. She quickly determined it was dehydrated and took it away to administer an IV. 

Ironically there is a relational beauty resulting from flooding and drought that allows for a cleansing of sorts.  People typically separated by differences reach out to help one another.  Those who value animals are keenly tuned in to the needs of wildlife and pets in flood and drought conditions.  These events in nature prompt a sudden removal of the things that hinder us from being closer to our human brothers and sisters. 

My other association with " going to the water" entails a spring in the country where I've previously filled containers for drinking water.  The last time I was there I found the owner of the property just above the spring had cut most of the trees above where the road plateaus to land that looks out for miles. 

My distress was so great I avoided going to the personal waters of my heart that were stirred by the scene of dozens of trees whose lives are now evidenced by stumps. 

I spring water to mix with sacred water from England's Glastonbury Well, a gift from my sister-friend Carol in NY.  With the drought at the time, I was uncertain the spring would be flowing.  To my relief, a steady stream poured from the pipe.  To my dismay not only were the trees cut, but a bag of trash had been tossed down the incline by the small parking area.  The contents of the bag were scattered about likely by a raccoon or squirrel.  By the bench at the spring lay a plastic Hooter's to-go bag alongside two cigarette butts.

This prompted the appearance of trash from inside the fountain that's me.  Yes, my inner-personal trash was energetically thrown out onto whoever had thrown trash into the woods.  I truly didn't think people still did that kind of thing.  Then I energetically 'trashed' the Hooter's patron and all those who create businesses that objectify women regardless of how "good" the food tastes. (Did the designer of the Hooter's logo, an owl, know the owl is symbolic of the Divine Feminine?  There's a story.)

I found relief in imagining the Hooter's patron having dinner by the spring rather than in the restaurant.  As for the bag of trash in the woods, I envisioned it being thrown out by a teenager trying to avoid trouble because he or she had forgotten to take it to the nearby county garbage site as a parent possibly asked.  Maybe Earth became the receptacle so these individuals could avoid being the receptacle of scolding.

Ironically I left the Spring happy.  Being there washed my negative thoughts away - until we drove home a different way.  The Cumberland Plateau like much of Tennessee is blessed with springs.  On this particular day, the abundant water sources visible as we drove reminded me of hydraulic fracturing called fracking, the questionable process used by gas companies to extract natural gas from earth. Tennessee seems open game for those with fracking interests.  As recently as this past week, a controversial plan was approved for the University of TN to lease nearly 9,000 acres of university owned land in the Cumberland Forrest. The land leased to an energy company would be fracked in order to research the effects of fracking.   

These are the days in which CEO's, politicians and those with overt power are literally 'going to water' for great monetary profit thanks to greed, negligence and power.  Simultaneously they and their hired hands, lobbyists, go to the airwaves to stir dissension and increase the division between the common people. They emphasize they're creating jobs and increasing our energy self-sufficiency while denying the potential short and long-term effects associated with the chemical cocktail used in the fracking process.  These chemicals may create toxicity in our waters leading to increased disease not to mention the harm done to the ecological system. 

Most people today I suspect have forgotten or not heard of "Erin Brockovich" the movie based on a real life situation in which a  corporation is negligent in acknowledging their toxic and deadly impact on a town's drinking water until a tenacious, tough woman, the movie's namesake, begins to research the company and the community members health issues resulting in their winning a large settlement from Pacific Gas & Electric. 

I found myself wondering what the Cherokee would have to say about fracking.  The Navaho and Hopi have battled companies for years regarding the mining practices contaminating the underground aquifer from which they get their water.

What is the path to right relationship with those who litter the spring in the country and roadsides as well as those who sell Nature with seeming disregard for health and long-term welfare of the planet and people?  Does the wisest path lie in the Cherokee story?  

This path suggests I always start with clearing the fountain within, forgiving those I judge and asking that they forgive me my judgment.  It involves "going" to the personal waters of my heart and staying with the things that stir me rather than ignoring or avoiding these things.  This means allowing my personal waters to flow and be felt whether in sorrow or joy. 

The worst thing I can do is allow the fountain in me to become clogged or "trashed" with judgment, resistance, fear, rigidity, pessimism, grudges, despair, a sense of threat or hatred.  This distances me from the personal waters of Me and from my fellow man. 

What if the waters of our world are healed as we honor the waters of our hearts, the tears of joy as well as sorrow wanting to flow and be felt?

The implications of  'going to the water' are stunning. Can you imagine the difference made if each of us practiced "going to the water" every morning. Imagine the resulting shift in our nations capital, our state capitals and our communities?   Imagine the changes that would occur in broader energy company policy if we first consciously tended the energy company each of us personally holds? We are the CEO's in charge of how our mind, heart and will's personal energy is spent?

I was about to write, "There are no easy answers."  Yet something tells me if we each practiced 'going to the water" as the traditional Cherokee did the answers would come, the shifts would flow and our world would see great change. 

What better time than this, the 20th Anniversary of World Water Day, to begin 'going to the water' each morning as you shower or bathe, to ask that all that comes between you and God as well as life on Earth be cleansed and washed away. 

I commit. Do you? 
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 22 March 2013 dawn@imaginetheshift.com