The drop that you hold in your hand
Has been a prism forming myriad rainbows
Has traveled underground streams
Bubbling through dark caverns
The Architect of cathedral caves
And split granite
Drawn from Caroline Way’s poem, “Still Water Meditation”, this lyrical excerpt grounds me in a way that perhaps only poetry can. Water expert and author Alick Bartholomew has wisely chosen this poem to open his own inspiring meditation on The Spiritual Life of Water, a journey to the meaning within this magical substance and how it affects everything in our world. While Way’s poem captures the sacredness inherent in this special compound, the detailed book thoughtfully expands on this theme, igniting passion and encouraging reverence for this deserving, yet largely misunderstood, facilitator of life.
As if it were not enough that life is totally dependent on water in all its forms for creation and sustenance, we are given extraordinary bonuses in the form of the magical beauty that it displays for our wonder and enjoyment. What would life be without rainbows and sunsets, thunderstorms and cloudscapes, waterfalls, and waves breaking on a rocky shore? The ocean is mesmerizing, calms the busy mind, and stimulates the inner philosopher.
The effect of holism and shifting our values
As its subheading suggests, The Spiritual Life of Water endeavors to explain the power and purpose of water through inspiring scientific facts and innovative conceptual philosophies. By focusing on both sides of our brains, Bartholomew gives a thorough account of water’s myriad capabilities from both scientific and spiritual points of view. The emphasis on a holistic perspective provides much-needed enlightenment on the astounding complex functions that water performs, including communication, energy transfer, and its overall role in creation and facilitation of life on earth.
Our attitude toward water has changed enormously in recent centuries. With the advent of rationalism and the denial of spiritual influences on humanity came the great explosion of technology that loudly proclaimed human supremacy over Nature. Since we decided we were not part of Nature and devised our own self-centered laws, we have lost touch with the magic of water. We have forgotten its true nature and the meaning of its pulsating movement.
He points out that our misplaced values are destroying our earth and everything on it. It is through Bartholomew’s gentle knowledge-based objectivity, holistic principles, and general open-mindedness that he manages to genuinely convey these epiphanies. Clearly an appreciator of rational science, he is bold enough to also recognize the intrinsic value in intuition, and in creative possibilities that lie outside the reach of the rational mind.
Because of water’s multidimensional nature, water is the key to a holistic worldview. It is difficult to understand the importance of water through a rational process. When we use our imagination and our intuition, the meaning starts to unfold. It is an exciting path that may illuminate your own vision about the meaning of life.
Like most everything, what he talks about boils down to how we live our everyday lives. When we get up in the morning, do we make choices based on how we feel and what our gut is telling us? Do we make an effort to deeply inhale the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us? Do we pray to the earth and give gratitude for her myriad magical efforts? Do we love and trust in the universe? Do we worship this place we call home?
To me, The Spiritual Life of Water encourages us to not only befriend nature but to revere it. We can do this in so many ways, from our personal vibrational output (mediation, gratitude, mindfulness) to our active choices in daily life (consumption of environmentally friendly goods, biking instead of driving, and daily habits like using clean water conscientiously).
When did we last bow down in awe before the great seas, tall trees, and miniature flowers; or kneel with grace in the presence of weeping willows and screaming wind; or carefully lower our heads to honor shiny dew drops and sparkling mist?
Water is what brings interconnectedness to all of life. The story of water is a parable for “all is one,” a lesson we urgently need to learn. Amid our cultural emphasis on individual wants and the prevailing scientific, medical, and educational models of splitting things into parts, water can teach us many things.
What if we see that the universe actually gives us exactly what we need, that she is our most trusted confidant and loyal partner: both our mentor and peer. Her omnipotent omnipresence works to push us towards our best selves and enlightens us to magic all around and within.
Choosing to trust in the universe has given me the personal courage to make choices I would have otherwise never considered, out of fear. I believe that when I choose to live through my heart and according to my intuition, the universe will work to provide me with what I need. Whatever I do not have, I do not need. This way of living is scary, sure, but life’s energy keeps me afloat in a way that analytic, close-minded and fear-based living cannot.
Water inspires human creativity
In all symbolic traditions, water is linked with the emotions that make us sensitive, receptive, and compassionate. Artists love water for its inspiration; it has the ability to stimulate awareness and imagination. Why does water affect us so profoundly? Might it be because we are composed mostly of water? It is what unites us with all of life.
As I was reading this book, my thoughts drifted back to my time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, filled with long conversations with friends about how shifts in the moon affect our emotions, or why I’d chosen to live the past few years consciously driven by my gut rather than by money, and the dance meditation classes I went to religiously that filled me with joy. Feeling incredible power from moving in tandem to the rhythms of tribal music in a sea of energy-filled bodies was unlike anything I’d ever felt. I used to feel the need to explain or justify my connection with this type of dance to myself and others who might see it as strange. My old analytic thought patterns and academic background even led me to question my feelings about it. This book helped me to understand my need to dance like this – and how its sense lies in its very non-sense. And that’s pretty meaningful to me.
In times of emotional turmoil – like war, death of a loved one, and natural disasters – we are given the chance to glimpse some essential truth. Through experiencing tragedy we are made to understand that life is so much bigger than our souls. We are often at the mercy of external events and situations far beyond our own control. By making an effort to open ourselves to vulnerability and letting both light and dark co-exist inside of us with acceptance, we prepare the foundation to see ourselves as one with nature. When we do, we are not alone.
Life as we know it: technology versus spiritual sacredness
It is unfortunately ironic that with hundreds, or even thousands, of ‘friends’ on Facebook, we often still feel utterly alone and removed from life. While sitting out in nature – far away from anyone – we can create feelings of connection, safety, and wholeness. When I was volunteering in a village in central Uganda, without power, I used to stand outside at nightfall, staring up at the endless array of stars in the sky. The vastness shook me. Even though I was far away from my friends, or even anyone who shared my skin color, I felt connected to earth and our universe. This is the power of nature.
And yet it is understandable that we find ourselves getting caught up in technological advances and the crush of the concrete grind: we live in a world in which these are valued and prized. Moving forward, we need to find a way of navigating the push-pull of tech versus nature and money versus emotion. By worshiping our universe rather than combating it, our values shift towards the sanctity of nature. As a result, life feels freer.
The key to understanding water and living more in tune with our environment and with Nature is to learn to see and feel holistically as part of a community of beings—human, animal, microbial, and botanical—united by the common bond of water.
I challenge us to all hold a drop of water in the palm of our hand, to contemplate its sacred story. Without it, we are nothing; with it, we are limitless – if we choose to be. In an attempt to end on an eloquent note, I’ll leave you with a final excerpt from the last section of Way’s touching “Still Water Meditation”.
Yet fresh and new
Is evaporating slowly from your hand
To mingle with the air you breathe, perhaps
Or drift in a sun-topped cloud
A thousand feet above the earth
Imagine its journey from your hand
Where will it go?
You can direct its journey
As it evaporates
Send your consciousness with it
It is the water of Life
It is still water.