I believe water has the most extraordinary qualities. I write this sitting by the ocean, that vast expanse of water that bears different names in different areas of the world yet is the same contiguous body of water that encompasses the entire earth. Where does one ocean end and a sea begin? There are no demarcation lines. Can this navy blue ocean of the mid-Pacific and the aquamarine one of the Caribbean be the same as the dark one of the North Sea?
This water that I sit by is the same water that killed thousands in the Asian tsunami and destroyed our southern coastline. If I swim in this ocean it will be fresh water I use to cleanse myself of the salt water that makes me feel sticky. If I am caught in a storm and am cold and wet it will be hot water that I shower in to warm myself. My body is comprised of a large percentage of water, the very same that makes the ice in my cocktail. I can cook with it and by adding color to it, can dye cloth. I cannot live without it yet could die in it.’
To spend time by the ocean renews my spirit. Why do I never tire of watching it or listening to it? The very sound is soothing to me, whether as waves, waterfalls, rains, or fountains; while the roar of it in a flood or tsunami is terrifying. After the flood when filthy water has ruined life, homes, furniture, and livelihoods, it is water that we use to clean up.
During the last few years I have been lucky enough to have sailed the oceans and many of the seas. Being at sea is a most spiritually moving experience. The unimaginable peace I feel when out of sight of land is countered by shock at the sheer ferocity of an angry ocean. To see water flow from a tap truly is a miracle when I have watched people carry every drop they need to survive on head or shoulder. Water can be so cruel and bring devastation to many as easily when it disappears as when there is too much.
Our babies are baptized with water. Many people bathe in blessed water seeking miraculous cures. When bottled it is hallowed by us, creating a faith that if bottled it must be purer.
There are certainly arguments that fire possesses qualities as great but I don’t use fire to clean up. Food may be better warm but much can be eaten raw and in many cases water is still involved, as in cooking pasta or boiling potatoes. There are many fire comparisons, but ultimately water triumphs – after all, it douses fire.
I will continue to watch the waves, every one of them renewing my soul and every year I will pilgrimage to the ocean to do just that.
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