David Sholin, Stewardship of Creation Enabler from Grand Canyon Presbytery, sent the following reflection on the "Water and a Baptismal Life" seminar at Ghost Ranch. This seminar, which took place in June, is part of a ten-year "Earth-Honoring faith: A Song of Songs" series at Ghost Ranch. Learn more about the series.
Ghost Ranch. Water. Baptismal Life. The 3rd summer seminar in the 10-year Earth-Honoring Faith Ghost Ranch series immersed me in a water conversation between the waters upon which all life depends and the sacramental waters of life of religious rites and ceremonies. I emerged recommitted to water policies and practices necessary to human prosperity, if not survival (from here it looks to me like we're in for a bumpy ride), and a new awareness of our baptismal rites and responsibilities.
For instance, as presented, in the USA, water health policy requires all tap water to be of hospital use quality. Of all that water, 2% goes into human bodies. So far, so good. The rub is the cost of keeping all our tap water hospital-use ready is increasing: dramatically. One reason why – as consumable water in the US shifts from below (ground-water) sources to above surface water sources, the quality of our water decreases, and the cost of restoring and maintaining that water quality increases. So one policy issue before us is – how much are we willing to pay for healthy water? (This is not to mention policy issues and costs, such as legalities, availability, use and conservation.)
As for the symbolic and sacramental nature of water: have you thought about the meaning of your baptism lately? An important take on baptism for me had to do with baptism as communal recognition and acceptance one to another. What are the implications for us if the water used in baptism, symbolic of our connections with Creation through our past, present and future, is becoming less healthful? What does this require of us as communities of faith? For me, our baptism obligates us to not take the water of life for granted. Water is not a commodity, it is a gift. The health of our water reflects the sanctity of our relationships.
The 2011 course is scheduled for June 20-26 and the topic is "Envisioning Paradise: Beauty & Restoration." Faculty includes Rita Nakashima Brock, Barbara Rossing and Daniel Spencer.
[water factoid: according to some estimates, our greatest use of electricity involves moving water around (especially up, and sometimes down)]