Saturday, November 16, 2013

what the water can teach us

I serve a church which sits on five amazing acres of land, including part of Miller Creek, which is a creek that begins out in West Marin and flows into the San Francisco Bay just down the road from the church.

Over the past years, I have taken groups of children down to the creek (a three minute jaunt down the hill through a small meadow and into the bay laurel forest which covers most of our hill.) I call our talk "what the creek can teach us" and we talk about living water and baptism and how we use and protect and enjoy the water which is created in the earth and nurtured by the rain and which we need to live. And then we make leaf boats and toss pebbles and jump across the rocks and generally arrive back at the top of the hill later than we ever expected. This is what the allure of water does to people.

I still have research to do about the Miwok people and their connection to our particular area of Marin. It seems to me that a hilltop and living water would be desirable features for any peaceful people. My dream is to acknowledge and ask forgiveness for the damage we second settlers have done to the watershed and discover in our own time the sacredness of the site throughout the ages. The children and I talk about this as well.

I've been thinking about living water lately in my own journey. I have been a rower for more than twenty years, waking up in the sunrise of God's creation. A shoulder injury several years ago has prevented me from my daily sunrise practice, but recently I have found my way back. Back to the ebb and flow of the San Francisco Bay, back to the liturgy which is the experience of arriving, setting out and finding ourselves on the water as the new day arrives. And giving thanks for that privilege.

I spent a night last week at New Camaldoli Hermitage, a wonderful Benedictine retreat center in the middle of Big Sur. The monastery sits up the mountain above the Pacific Ocean, but not far enough to dampen the sounds of the barking sea lions on the rocky outcrop below. I listened to those sounds all night long, not upset at being kept awake but rather comforted by the living connection to the ocean. The barking which is at the same time familiar and unfamiliar.

What can the water teach us? It teaches me about life and death, about my connection to our Mother Earth, about what evokes our passions and slays our demons. It teaches me about the newness and uniqueness of each day, the fleeting nature of our lives and the incredible gift of life we are given. Water, what does it teach you?

the way to the Bay, Corte Madera Creek at sunrise

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