Water unites and empowers us | Interfaith | Nov. 11

Last May, 40 men from Bethany Lutheran Church spent our retreat weekend at the Elwha River, immersing ourselves in the power of water. There we were reminded of the capacity of water to create habitat, drive turbines, move mountains and stir our souls. Water power!

In June, 12 high school youth ventured to Holden Village to do trail work high in the North Cascades, and there discovered the power of water, to create electricity, shape mountain lakes for fishing, provide refreshing water for drinking and bathing after a long, hot day. And its ability to stir our souls.

This is consistent with the sacramental power of water embraced by many faiths on Bainbridge Island. God’s presence, God’s power, God’s inclusive welcoming, God’s blessing, is understood in our Lutheran tradition to be conveyed through water, the waters of baptism. It unites us and  it  empowers us; it is refreshing, transforming, defining and it stirs our souls.

Last month began with the annual CROP Walk on Bainbridge Island, a walk that has united people of all faiths in order to walk in solidarity with the woman in Uganda who walks kilometers each day to get potable water for her family. She knows the power of water. We walk alongside those who desperately migrate hundreds of miles without water, compelled to do so in order to simply feed their families.

We walk, accompanying those who suffer from drought, the first famine named such by the UN in decades, as people hunger and thirst in Somalia. Together, we acknowledge the power of water.

Our City Council recently discussed water here on Bainbridge Island, in the context of a “rebate” for those who are on city water. I am not so in tune with the debate over the city and our water utility, but I do wish to be a proponent of water power in our community. I imagine, in a community surrounded by water, and mindful of the precious quality of fresh water, that this might be a moment to be seized.

What if, in embracing our community’s “water power,” we might coalesce our energies around the unifying power of water, and celebrate its importance in our lives. We might do so by:

• Living more mindfully as to the great resource our water is, and use it accordingly.

• Committing the money being rebated to our households to causes that seek to satisfy the thirst in our world, by giving it to our Rotarians for their Uganda well project; by directing it to Helpline House for those struggling in these challenging days; by using it to restock salmon in our own recovering streams; by contributing such funds to agencies such as Lutheran World Relief, supplying fresh water to Somalian refugee camps.

• Teaching our children about good stewardship of the earth’s resources, and the sheer joy of generosity.

• Celebrating the delight of working together as a community for the common good, by allowing the waters to wash away our personal agendas and to embrace water power … and to allow it to stir our soul.

Paul Stumme-Diers is pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church on Bainbridge.

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