…like a tree planted beside water channels. – Psalm 1:3 (REB)
I like to shower daily. My Indian friend Surna has a daily relationship with water too. She walks ten miles each morning, with two empty one-gallon buckets that look a lot like an old Clorox gallon bottle. She fills them at a spigot. She chats up her colleagues, giving new meaning to water cooler conversations. She walks back 10 miles to her home. She doesn’t check her steps on her phone.
I have another habit in honor of Surna with water. It doesn’t make us ethically or environmentally even. Instead, it notices her, as I notice myself.
I use all the water I can find and walk around my house ceremoniously watering the plants or filling up the cistern. Call me obsessed with water. I call these little walks pilgrimages. They go out to the cistern in the garden or they go to the house plants, placed to steal the sun from the windows upstairs and down. Pasta water. Half full water glasses. The ice cubes left over in the bourbon glass. Drops in the proverbial bucket.
I also pick up stray water bottles on the street, hand sanitize, and add their orphaned water to my various pots.
“Sentinel,” a New Orleans exhibit, is a twelve-foot bronze inspired by the anthropomorphic qualities of Zulu ceremonial spoons. An elongated representation of the human body serves as a handle, while the circular head functions as the ladle. It is the body as a literary vessel, designed to carry water like Surna does. I sometimes feel like a pitcher, pouring, in the shower. Both Surna and I feel like sturdy trees, planted near water.
May we never take a shower for granted. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Pastor at the Orient Congregational Church on the far end of Long Island, New York. Her newest book is Remove the Pews: Spiritual Possibilities for Sacred Spaces, from The Pilgrim Press.