Water as part of our origin story, as element of chaos, danger, and destruction, and places of crossing and transition

Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love. It humbles my heart, for you are everywhere. — Hakim Sinai, Sufi poet

They both listened silently to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of Being, the voice of perpetual Becoming. ― Hermann Hesse

All water is holy water. ― Rajiv Joseph

No water, no life. No blue, no green. – Sylvia Earle 

… again and again a new land edge emerges a new people emerges where race and class and death and life and water and tears and loss and life and death destruction and life and tears compassion and loss and a fire stolen bus rumbles toward you all directions wherever you are alive still
— Juan Felipe Herrera

  “The Water said to the dirty one, “Come here.” The dirty one said, “I am too ashamed.” The water replied, “How will your shame be washed away without me?”
— attributed to Rumi

SONGS about WATER:

Water Resources:


Water Themes in Scripture:


Mythology of Water:

Water —  Ralph Waldo Emerson
The water understands Civilization well;
It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
Elegantly destroy.


The Water Diviner— Dannie Abse  
Late, I have come to a parched land
doubting my gift, if gift I have,
the inspiration of water spilt,
swallowed in the sand.  
To hear once more water trickle,
to stand in a stretch of silence
the divining pen twisting in the hand:
sign of depths alluvial.  
Water owns no permanent shape,
sags, is most itself descending;
now, under the shadow of the idol,
dry mouth and dry landscape.  
No rain falls with a refreshing sound
to settle tubular in a well, elliptical in a bowl.
No grape lusciously moulds it round.  
Clouds have no constant resemblance to anything,
blown by a hot wind, flying mirages;
the blue background, light constructions of chance.  
To hold back chaos
I transformed amorphous mass—and fire and cloud—
so that the agèd gods
might dance and golden structures form.  
I should have built, plain brick on brick, a water tower.
The sun flies on arid wastes, barren hells
too warm and me with a hazel stick!  
Rivulets vanished in the dust long ago,
great compositions vaporized,
salt on the tongue so thick that drinking, still I thirst.  
Repeated desert, recurring drought,
sometimes hearing water trickle, sometimes not,
I, by doubting first, believe; believing, doubt.  

WATER REFLECTIONS

Water is the driving force of all nature. — Leonardo da Vinci

Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it. — Lao Tzu 

We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one. — Jacques Yves Cousteau

In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans. — Kahlil Gibran

No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man. – Heraclitus

The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. — Isak Dinesen

Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. — W. H. Auden 

A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, would explain the universe to us. – Lucy Larcom

Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children’s lifetime. The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land. – Luna Leopold

Water is the mother of the vine, the nurse and fountain of fecundity, the adorner and refresher of the world. – Charles Mackay

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Water is the most perfect traveller because when it travels it becomes the path itself! ― Mehmet Murat ildan

I believe that water is the closest thing to a god we have here on Earth. We are in awe of its power and majestic beauty. We are drawn to it as if it’s a magical, healing force. We gestate in water, are made of water, and need to drink water to live. We are living in water.― Alex Z. Moores

Water sustains all.– Thales of Miletus

To put your hands in a river is to feel the chords that bind the earth together. —Barry Lopez

Water is fluid, soft and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong. – Lau Tzu

Water Water Water Wind Water
Juan Felipe Herrera

for New Orleans and the people of the Gulf Coast

water water water wind water
across the land shape of a torn heart
new orleans waves come louisiana the waves come
alabama wind calls alabama
and the roofs blow across red clouds
inside the divine spiral there is a voice
inside the voice there is light water wind fire smoke
the bodies float and rise  
kind flames bow down and
move across the skies
never seen blackish red bluish bruised
water rises houses fall
the child the elders the mothers underwater
who will live who will rise
the windows fill with the howling
where is the transfusion
where is the lamp
who who in the wet night jagged in the oil  
waves come the lakes loosen their sultry shape
it is the shape of a lost hand a wing
broken casinos in biloxi
become carnations across the sands
and the woman in the wheelchair
descends her last breath
a rose in the razor rain uptown on mansion hill
even the million dollar house bows
in the negative shade
someone is afloat
a family dissolves the nation disappears
neighborhoods fade across lost streets
the police dressed in newspapers flutter
toward nothingness moons who goes there  
under our floors filtered wooden stars
towels and glass gasoline coffins
the skin of trees and jalopy tires
fish bebop dead from the zoo
the dogs half drag
ward number nine
miss Symphony Spikes and mrs. Hardy Johnson
the new plankton new algae
of the nameless stroll in the dark
ask the next question about kindness
then there is a bus a taxi a hearse a helicopter a rescue team
a tiny tribe of nine year olds
separating the waters the oils and ashes
hear the song of splinters and blood
tree sap machine oil and old jazz trumpeters z’s and x’s
raffia skirts and jujube hats and
a father man holds the hand of his lover
saying take care of the children
let me go now let me stumble
stumble nowhere
drink this earth liquor
going in petals  
stadiums and looters celebrities cameras cases more water cases
again and again a new land edge emerges
a new people emerges where race and class
and death and life and water and tears and loss and life
and death destruction and life and tears
compassion and loss and a fire stolen bus rumbles
toward you all directions
wherever you are alive still

Daily Advent Devotional (Day 26)

Wednesday, Dec 23 – DAY 26

As we draw closer to the celebration of holy love’s arrival within our lives, as honored on Christmas Day, we may reflect on how our human experience of love has already shaped us. Who in our early lives offered us models of love? What forms did that love take?

Often we see God through the lens of the primary relationships from our childhoods. This doesn’t imply that there’s a right or wrong way to relate to God, simply acknowledges that our lived experiences inform the way we connect to God.

Is your relationship with God one that is intimate or distant? Is God, to you, a faraway deity who observes, but doesn’t get involved? Or is your connection to God one of friendship and immediacy? Do you find God in nature or through action and volunteering?

How is love expressed in your life? What face does it wear? What language does it use to reach you? How does it illuminate your life? — Rev Gail

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you. — Psalm 86:5

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. John 15:9

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. — Lao Tzu

We are shaped and fashioned by those we love. — Goethe

Love is not really an action that you do. Love is what and who you are, in your deepest essence.Love is a place that already exists inside of you, but is also greater than you. That’s the paradox. It’s within you and yet beyond you. This creates a sense of abundance and more-than-enoughness, which is precisely the satisfaction and deep peace of the True Self. You know you’ve found a well that will never go dry, as Jesus says (see John 4:13-14). Your True Self, God’s Love in you, cannot be exhausted. — Richard Rohr

Mon, Nov 30 Gratitude Reflection

As the month draws to a close, appreciate endings. Completions. What has come full circle, and is now finished? What does it offer to you?

         Our lives, our calendars, our cultures are filled with origin stories and also tales about how the world will end, or what comes next, when life ends. Our faith also gives us a guide as to what comes next. For instance, death is not the final state of being: life beyond death is promised to us. And yet, one form of ending is mortal death.

         Yet we have many other milestones that represent conclusion. Graduations. Retirements. Anniversaries. We create rituals around the completion of certain experiences, such as childhood, education, and work. They celebrate the past, examine history, and then name the end of this stage of life. They clear the path for what comes next.

         Endings may look like punctuation marks. Periods. Question marks. Colons that promise there’s more to come.

         We have traditions for saying goodbye. For letting go. For releasing. For mourning. For acknowledging many kinds of endings.

         Today, give thanks for endings. — Rev Gail

I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. — John 17:4

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. — Philippians 1:6

But I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace. — Acts 20:24

And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something—now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. — 2 Corinthians 8:10-12

We should say in all joyfulness and cheerfulness as we retire to our beds, “I have lived; I have completed now the course that fortune long ago allotted me.” — Virgil

It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. ― Betty Friedan

Rushing into action, you fail.
Trying to grasp things, you lose them.
Forcing a project to completion,
you ruin what was almost ripe.
Therefore the Master takes action
by letting things take their course.
He remains as calm at the end
as at the beginning.
He has nothing,
thus has nothing to lose.
What he desires is non-desire;
what he learns is to unlearn.
He simply reminds people
of who they have always been.
He cares about nothing but the Tao.
Thus he can care for all things.
Lao Tzu

Meditations on the theme of shepherd, navigator, guide: Lenten journey using “I Am” statements from Gospel of John.

Man is not the lord of beings. Man is the shepherd of Being. — Martin Heidegger

Between every two pines there is a doorway to a new world. — John Muir

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. — Lao Tzu

A traveller I am, and a navigator, and everyday I discover a new region within my soul.  — Khalil Gibran

I’d finally come to understand what it had been: a yearning for a way out, when actually what I had wanted to find was a way in. ― Cheryl Strayed, Wild

It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves. — Sir Edmund Hillary

For the Shepherd Who Is Also the Path the Sun Makes in Daytime (excerpt) — Komal Mathew
 … A good shepherd angles a lion’s eye,
traps gazelles in dry fields,
copies a cheetah’s spots one leg at a time. 
A good shepherd does not give you stones
when you ask for toast,
does not ask you to work without a burning bush
—but owns a gate, uses a gate,
pulls the weeds and leaves the wheat on an altar of choices. 
A good shepherd is a prince of peace
when terror finds its full echo,
a creator in the wild where a predator,
providentially, becomes prey. 


Essentials for the journey and styles of leadership:

Questions to consider (from Psalm 23 and John 8):

  • What helps keep you on track, headed in the preferred direction? How do you best navigate, and what do you experience as obstacles to the Way you want to live?
  • What are your essential tools or resources to bring along on a journey? What’s on your packing list?
  • Have you ever gotten lost? How did you cope? What did you learn from that experience? What helped and what didn’t you need?
  • When do you allow someone else to guide or lead you? When do you allow someone else to drive or pilot? Does the person doing the driving, piloting or navigating decide the route and destination? Who is in control and when does this change?
  • Who have been important guides, navigators and shepherds in your life? To whom do you serve as a shepherd, guide, coach, mentor, pilot?
  • When do you choose to lead, when do you choose to follow?
  • What style of leadership (see guide above) do you implement? To what style do you respond?

I AM Songs (including recommendations from members of JCC community)

SHEPHERD & GUIDE Songs

I Am: Trail Guide and Navigator

I was no longer following a trail. I was learning to follow myself. ― Aspen Matis

The compass rose is nothing but a star with an infinite number of rays pointing in all directions.It is the one true and perfect symbol of the universe. And it is the one most accurate symbol of you.Spread your arms in an embrace, throw your head back, and prepare to receive and send coordinates of being. For, at last you know—you are the navigator, the captain, and the ship. — Vera Nazarian

I do not believe there is any such sixth sense. A man with a good sense of direction is, to me, quite simply an able pathfinder – a natural navigator – somebody who can find his way by the use of the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch – the senses he was born with) developed by the blessing of experience and the use of intelligence. All that pathfinder needs is his senses and knowledge of how to interpret nature’s signs. — Harold Gatty

It was all unknown to me then, as I sat on … on the day I finished my hike. Everything except the fact that I didn’t have to know. That is was enough to trust that what I’d done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was, like all those lines from The Dream of a Common Language that had run through my nights and days. To believe that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life – like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be. ― Cheryl Strayed

I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost

When God walks, he leaves a trail of stardust in his wake. When I walk, I have to leave a trail of breadcrumbs so that I can find my way home.  ― Anthony T. Hincks

Worshipping the Lord means giving Him the place that he must have; worshipping the Lord means stating, believing – not only by our words – that He alone truly guides our lives; worshipping the Lord means that we are convinced before Him that He is the only God, the God of our lives, the God of our history. — Pope Francis

The only passion that guides me is for the truth… I look at everything from this point of view. — Che Guevara

As we go about our daily routines, our internal monologue narrates our experience. Our self-talk guides our behavior and influences the way we interact with others. It also plays a major role in how you feel about yourself, other people, and the world in general. — Amy Morin

Reason guides but a small part of man, and the rest obeys feeling, true or false, and passion, good or bad. — Joseph Roux

God is never on the sidelines of His children’s lives. He goes before them. He leads them, guides them, protects and saves them. — Monica Johnson

It’s a great responsibility before God, the judge who guides us, who draws us to truth and good, and in this sense the church must unmask evil, rendering present the goodness of God, rendering present his truth, the truly infinite for which we are thirsty. — Pope Benedict XVI

We were not meant to mask ourselves before our fellow-beings, but to be, through our human forms, true and clear utterances of the spirit within. Since God gave us these bodies, they must have been given us as guides to Him and revealers of Him. — Lucy Larcom

It is thought and feeling which guides the universe, not deeds. — Edgar Cayce

On The Trail

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way.  — Dr. Seuss

If you face the rest of your life with the spirit you show on the trail, it will have no choice but to yield the same kind of memories and dreams. ― Adrienne Hall

Failure is a signpost on the trail to success. ― Phillip Gary Smith

Carry as little as possible, but choose that little with care.  — Earl Shaffer

Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking. You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits. — Cindy Ross

After a day’s walk, everything has twice its usual value. — G.M. Trevelyan

A walk in nature walks the soul back home. — Mary Davis

Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you are climbing it. — Andy Rooney

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order. — John Burroughs

Don’t go to sleep now, for you have been awakened. Don’t shut your eyes, or you will put out the light. Stay awake to the power and force that guides and protects your divine essence. — Debbie Ford

Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in an office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain. – Jack Kerouac

In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous. – Aristotle

In every walk with nature, one received far more than he seeks. – John Muir

Hiking is a bit like life: The journey only requires you to put one foot in front of the other…again and again and again. And if you allow yourself the opportunity to be present throughout the entirety of the trek, you will witness beauty every step of the way, not just at the summit. — Unattributed

There really is no correct way to hike the trail, and anyone who insists that there is ought not to worry so much about other people’s experiences. Hikers need to hike the trail that’s right for them… ― Adrienne Hall

I Am: Shepherd

Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd. ― Rumi 

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of liberty. — Abraham Lincoln

Shepherds lift their heads, not to gaze at a new light but to hear angels.  ― Richelle E. Goodrich

The seaman tells stories of winds, the ploughman of bulls; the soldier details his wounds, the shepherd his sheep. — Laurence J. Peter

… we’re lazy when it comes to doing things that are good for us; we also want someone to follow – someone to go first, for them to take the risks thereby smoothing our path; a sort of guarantee that we won’t stumble. Ironically, we also want to be followed in some way; we are both sheep and shepherd. ― Renée Paule

There was a shepherd the other day … who had in his eyes that reminiscence of horizons which makes the eyes of shepherds and of mountaineers different from the eyes of other men. ― Hilaire Belloc

I don’t want to get too philosophical, but in a sense, you’re given this gift, this sort of creative force in you, and I think everyone has it, and it’s completely unique to you. And you as a person have a little bit of a responsibility as its shepherd if you choose to incorporate that into your life. — Ze Frank

Too many leaders act as if the sheep… their people… are there for the benefit of the shepherd, not that the shepherd has responsibility for the sheep. — Ken Blanchard

It is the duty of a good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them. — attributed to Tiberius


Reflections on tree of life as outgrowth of wisdom: themes from Proverbs

On Wisdom

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. — Reinhold Niebuhr

As a tree produces fruit, wisdom gives life to those who use it, and everyone who uses it will be happy. — Proverbs 3:18

Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. — Doris Lessing

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