I am washing my hands noticing how I rub the soap around my thumbs, the top of my hands, the sides of my hands, the palms of my hands and the in between of my fingers. I notice the bubbles and the slippery feel of the soap. Then I feel the water clearing everything, removing not only the film of the soap but all the virus and bacteria — real and imagined. My hands feel clean. I feel safe, calm and at peace. This ritual that repeats itself all throughout the day, especially when I come back from the outdoors has become my meditation, my practice into mindfulness, my mantra and a prayer of the hands for all human kind.
Water is the most magical of all elements. It is a gas, a liquid, a solid. It floats rather than sinks. It forms beads that can run uphill when heated at certain temperatures, and can boil at temperatures way below the freezing point. It creates beautiful crystals when spoken with words of love, and distorted ones if spoken with anger and/or hatred. It has traveled captured in meteorites. We seek it on Mars and other planets. It is necessary for our own survival if we are going to travel and settle outside Mother Earth. Water is the origin of our own existence, of the existence of all life in the planet as we know it. We are born in water contained in the amniotic fluid. As adults we are 60% water, and our brains and hearts are 73% water. Water is inexorably connected to our own survival and well being.
It has long been associated with birth, purification, cleaning of one’s soul and renewal; the Hindu bathing in the Ganges River, Catholics and Christians in baptism are examples of this. The cry of “water is life” is associated with Native tribes around the world trying to protect the water and environment from pollution from the oil pipelines. Civilizations have risen and fallen by the banks of their rivers, and other bodies of water. There are ceremonies to pray for water. In Mexico when Tlaloc, the god of rain was moved from its original site to the anthropology museum, the inhabitants of the town insisted that the government connect their town to running water because they were afraid that with the removal of the god they would not get rain.
Water has much to teach us about the light and shadow sides of their humanity. Water can bring life and destruction. Oceans separate and connect us to one another.
Water has much to teach us about the light and shadow sides of their humanity. Water can bring life and destruction. Oceans separate and connect us to one another. Tsunamis, monsoons, hurricanes and tornados can bring destruction in their magnitude and force. I just read an article in the New York Times, where a doctor described her situation as standing at night next to the ocean, knowing that a wave was coming, without having any idea of its size. Humans as tsunamis have shown our destructive force plenty of times by raining arrows, catapults, missiles and bullets on others, in too many conflicts and wars around the world. Hate words that pour out of our mouths that have devastating effects on the people we inflict them. Yet, at the same time, water brings life. When the Nile overflowed in Cleopatra’s time and today it brings fertility to the land. Zebras travel long distances to reach the rains where fresh, rich-in-minerals grass grows to feed their newly born. People eagerly await monsoon season so that their crops can grow and land can be renewed. Water brings relief after long droughts. Women in developing countries spend most of their life fetching water for their families in buckets that they carry long distances. As a child I lived in a town called Piedras Negras. When we arrived, they had had a large flood and you could still see the marks of the water almost touching the ceiling of the house we rented. During the time I lived there there was a drought that lasted several years. I remember when it finally rained, going out to the patio and dancing in the rain, enjoying being soaked through and through. I also remember going outside the town with my family and enjoying a carpet of wildflowers that grew through the cracks of what had been dried land just a few hours earlier.
Water travels around the world. Currents move, the clouds filled with water like waves in the ocean. Due to pollution, particles the clouds have been moving the flow to different latitudes and longitudes, altering the patterns of where and how the water falls. Places that would get seasonal rains, now do not, and others are getting more than they bargained for.
Water, I learned, when I volunteered for the Santa Barbara Channel Keepers and the Surfrider Foundation as we collected water samples from the Matilija damn and down the river, needs to move to be oxygenated, to be alive. Stagnated water, I learned, dies. The water samples we took measured, among other things, the amount of pollution from fertilizers and other pollutants as it flowed down the river into the ocean. Mines, fracking, broken petroleum pipelines, fertilizers, industrial toxic chemicals such as lead and others, have contaminated our waters, rendering them poisonous and unable to sustain life, and or ability to develop. We can die or be hurt by drinking, or bathing in contaminated water.
Water brings us life. It is part of our lungs 83% of it. And yet, if we fill our lungs with water, we can die. The irony of the coronavirus does not escape me. The virus, as I understand it, enters our lungs and kills the cilia, which then floats to the fluid that has accumulated. Then it continues to kill the cells, that also float, adding to the debris, polluting and obstructing, our capacity to remove the fluid or to breathe. Our lungs cease to be spongy, and like the coral in the bottom of the ocean that are dying (the coral become bleached and hard), they can no longer sustain life. We die because we drown in our own fluid. Our lungs have become the containers of polluted, stagnated, deadly water. And yet, on the other side, water is keeping us safe, by washing away the virus, by purifying us, by cleaning us and helping to keep ourselves and others safe.
This water that is keeping us safe is the same water that has existed since the creation of our planet. It is the same water that our human ancestors drank and bathed in. It is the first mirror that we had, showing us what we looked like as a species when our image was reflected as we leaned in to scoop a handful of water from a pond or a creek. It is the same water that brought life to them, the same water of their salty tears when they cried with joy and sorrow. It is the same water that our families, in separate houses are drinking and using to clean themselves around the world. Every drop carries with her the memory of the existence of humanity and all living things. Water old and new, when it touches my hands, when I bath in it, when I drink it I am being connected to ALL of us.
Take a moment when water touches you to feel connected to your loved ones and everyone in the world. Talk to her and whisper words of love so that its healing energy in the form of beautiful crystals can reach us and heal us ALL.
Ana Maria Irueste-Montes
Reposted from Medium with the author's permission.