Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Subtle Power of Water

The gentle rain this morning has reminded me of the importance of water in daily life. We encounter water each day in the form of a bath, shower, or hand-washing. As a rower, I spend four mornings a week atop the water (but hopefully not in it!). Not only am I in or on water, I drink it. Without water, we cannot live.

Water is a powerful symbol in many religions. In Christianity, water is used ritually in baptism as a symbol of God's love. In Islam, water is used in ritual washing before prayer. Ritual washing is also part of Hinduism. In Taoism, water is the primary symbol of the Tao (or "Way").

The Tao Te Ching includes this verse about water:
"The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It is content with the low places that people disdain.
Thus it is like the Tao."
(Chapter 8)

Water is infinitely supple, yet incomparably strong. Over time, water is one of the most powerful forces, even more powerful than earthquakes. The Grand Canyon stands as a stunning testimony to the power of water in the form of the Colorado River to cut through even the hardest of rock.

Without water, life cannot continue. Because of its power to sustain life, water is a perfect symbol for divine grace. Yet, I take the water I drink, bathe in, and row upon for granted much of the time. Every time we touch, taste or see water is an opportunity to give thanks for this amazing gift.

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