faith looking forward


Nature's Transformations

The Gods and the Water Cycle

Sunday Evening Service, April 16, 2015

Each rainfall, each wave of the ocean crashes onto a shore, each cloud in the sky, and all of Earth's ice caps, lakes and rivers all are part of one lifegiving phemomenon: Water.

Think of the oceans. They are huge bodies of liquid that cover most of our home planet's surface. They churn endlessly with the pull of the moon, the currents of air, and heat from deep within the Earth. They are teeming with life, both gigantic and microscopic, and in fact the very start of life itself might have happened in the deeps. The oceans keep our planet at its pleasant, life-supporting temperature, but as they collect heat energy, a very small amount of the ocean evaporates into gas.

Once airborne, water vapor mostly collects high in the atmosphere, collecting into groups of clouds, floating serenely above us. Here, they reflect some sunlight to also help with our planet’s temperature control. Clouds travel where the winds will take them, often until they hit an obstacle, like mountains. Eventually the clouds grow dense, dark, and heavy, until the air can no longer support the weight of the water, and we get precipitation, the gift of water from the sky to the ground.

Snow melts in spring and rainfall throughout the year help keep our rivers and lakes full and refreshed. This section of our ecosystem is full of its own life, similar yet distinct from its ocean-dwelling cousins. The flooding of plains brings vital nutrition to the plants and animals living on the land, separate yet tied to the cycle of water through the world.

The movement of water over rocks and dirt, either through rain or rivers or ocean waves or the crawling of glaciers across the land, wears down the substance over time. Shores shift, Boulders weather and crack, river rocks grow smooth and smaller as they tumble downstream. Erosion takes its time, but leaves its mark upon the landscape.

Eventually, of course, all rivers lead to the oceans. And the cycle is complete and unending.

So what does all this mean for us?

With the oceans, let us think of the homebuilding of Builder and Nurturer. What can we learn? The cradle of all life also feeds us with bounties of fish and seaweed. Our homes, our history affect us all, and continue to affect us to this day. We are more whole when we are aware of where we're from and how we came to be who we are.

With precipitation, let us think of the change aspects of Trickster and Healer. From the sky falls rain. The movement of water can cleanse and nurture, or it can tear and destroy. Without water, we wouldn't have crops to feed us, nor clean water to slake our thirsts. Without movement and change, our water would grow stagnant and unhealthy. Healing and change are vital to the continued living of our lives.

With the images of erosion, returning, and flowing, think of Death and Destroyer.

Across the lands, water moves. The flowing of rivers takes the path of least resistance, each drop carrying a tiny amount of sediment. This shifting of the land's body takes time, eating away at rock and dirt, depositing it at a delta or carrying it out into the ocean. All things erode. The passing of water or time wears down the substance of things.

But the cycle of the water itself continues on after the rain, the river, the ocean. Understanding the changes we've been through and the places we have yet to go will help us to live full lives in the moment, gracious and accepting. The Gods are ever part of our cycle, as we, alongside Earth, transition through all things. In this we are always connected.