Lucas van Ort / Unsplash

Lucas van Ort / Unsplash

Living & Growing: Water communion

  • By Jean Findley
  • Thursday, September 22, 2022 12:26pm
  • Neighbors

I often wake up with songs running like a current in my ears, and this morning it was “Quando, Quando, Quando,”an Englebert Humperdink song resurrected by my teens and played during car rides. I think of Quando (“when”) a lot, especially when my windshield wipers are whappng. When will the sun come back out? Is this atmospheric river part of climate change? When will somebody do something about that? When will world problems be solved? Thinking about carbon emissions, should I even be driving this car? I used to be fascinated by weather’s various manifestations, but now I fear that it is spinning out of control.

My solitary pondering, sometimes overwhelming, is balanced with the gathering celebrations of fall, when our Unitarian Universalist (UU) fellowship comes back together. In an ironic nod to Fall rain, our first gathering of the fellowship year revolves around water.

Many Unitarian Universalist congregations have an annual tradition of celebrating a Water Ceremony/Communion early in September as a ritual of welcoming members of their congregation to a new church year. Members bring to the service a small amount of water from a place that is special to them, perhaps from a recent trip they took. All of the samples are poured into a common bowl to signify coming together again.

Though these services vary greatly from congregation to congregation, they provide an opportunity for UU congregations to express their commitment to our Sixth Principle: We Covenant to Affirm and Promote the Goal of World Community with Peace, Liberty and Justice for All. They also remind us of our principle to “promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence.”

One of our kind UU volunteer leaders brought these inspiring words to our recent Water Communion:

“The Spirit of Water”

By Katie Gelfand

We light this chalice as a symbol of reunion.

We reunite in this sanctuary to share the flow of our hearts with one another.

We gather together in ritual

to celebrate our fountains of joy

to hold each other through storms of grief

to guide one another through rapids of transformation

to rest together on ponds of stillness.

Together, we honor the spirit of water, its many forms, and its life-giving essence.

Water is cresting in the seas and the streets, and in some places, not pouring at all. While out of balance globally, water also connects us symbolically and spiritually. It is a powerful force.

In her book “Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice,” Brene’ Brown defines spirituality as “recognizing and celebrating that we are inextricably connected to one another by a power greater than all of us and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and belonging.”

When I gather with others, I merge into a stream of possibility and right action. I move from asking “when” will somebody do something to “what” is the next right step? Together, we create a force more powerful than one person or one belief system. As UUA president the Rev. Dr. Susan Frederick-Gray reminds us. “For we are not alone – and we make each other strong.” May we all work together to do the right thing.

• Jean Findley os a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship member. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders. It appears every Friday on the Juneau Empire’s Faith page.

More in Neighbors

A rainbow bench downtown on Sept. 8. (Photo by Denise Carroll)
Art in Unusual Places

The Juneau Empire welcomes reader-submitted photos of art in unusual or unexpected… Continue reading

A sooty grouse alertly watches some approaching humans. (Photo by Pam Bergeson)
On the Trails: From Switzer Creek to Mount Roberts

A September morning stroll with a friend on the Switzer Creek Trail… Continue reading

This resting dog’s nose is at work all the time and is more than 1,000 times more sensitive than yours. (Photo of a tired-out Cora by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: The world according to a dog’s nose

A dog can tell you a lot about the outdoors. When a… Continue reading

An Earth Day message posted on Facebook this spring by the University of Alaska Southeast refers to environmental stewardship and climate change activities, including these kayaks used for an oceanography course during the summer of 2019. (Courtesy of the University of Alaska Southeast)
Sustainable Alaska: Connecting to nature is vital to sustainable well-being and behavior

I have spent my career studying the aesthetic experience in an art-viewing… Continue reading

Laura Rorem
Living and Growing: ‘UBUNTU: I am because we are’

Ironic. As I received the 1998 Parent of the Year Award for… Continue reading

A crow is blinded in one eye with an infection of avian pox. (Photo by Kerry Howard)
On the Trails: Avian flu ailments

Among the many diseases that afflict wild birds, there is avian flu,… Continue reading

A change in season is marked by tree leaves turning color at Evergreen Cemetery in late September of 2019. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Gimme a Smile: P.S. Autumn is here.

Ready or not, here it comes. The days are getting shorter, new… Continue reading

A double rainbow appears in Juneau last Friday. (Photo by Ally Karpel)
Living and Growing: Embracing Tohu V’vohu — Creation Amidst Chaos

Over the course of the past year, during which I have served… Continue reading

Birch and aspen glow orange in September in the Chena River State Recreation Area east of Fairbanks. (Photo by Ned Rozell)
Alaska Science Forum: The varying colors of fall equinox

We are at fall equinox, a day of great equality: All the… Continue reading

A male pink salmon attacks another male with a full-body bite, driving the victim to the bottom of the stream.(Photo by Bob Armstrong)
On the Trails: Eagle Beach strawberries and salmon

A walk at Eagle Beach Rec Area often yields something to think… Continue reading

Adam Bauer of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Bahá’ís of Juneau.
Living and Growing: Rúhíyyih Khánum, Hand of the Cause of God

Living in Juneau I would like to take a moment to acknowledge… Continue reading

A calm porcupine eating lunch and not displaying its quills. (Photo by Jos Bakker)
On the Trails: Prickly critters here and afar

Prickles, thorns, and spines of some sort are a common type of… Continue reading