I live in the Sonoran desert but like most people in the United States, I never put too much thought into where our water comes from. The faucet, duh. Recently, I started collecting water that would usually go down the drain and am using it to water my outdoor plants. I’m embarrassed to admit I had some wasteful habits, like running the hot water to fill a pan so that it’ll boil faster. These habits reflect a life of convenience that I’ve taken for granted.
At the church service I go to, a mic is passed around after the sermon and people can share what it brought up for them. Coincidentally (if you believe in coincidences), last Sunday a couple of ladies talked about the role of women in water conservation around the world. Water is often a women’s issue, especially in developing countries where women are primarily responsible for collecting water for cooking, drinking and cleaning. Water is such a vital part of human life that in many places, women spend inordinately large parts of their days making sure that their families have enough. Girls may have to sacrifice going to school to help. And all we do is turn on the faucet.
This got me to thinking about the image of women as water bearers. Water is like raw emotion. It can come in massive waves like sobs or can carve out a canyon through sheer persistence. As women, we understand the power of emotion and as water bearers, it is our nature to be vessels that enclose that power and pour it back out in the form of compassion and wisdom.
All too often we are told to be ashamed of our emotions, to hide them or else look weak. We’re told that vulnerability is something to cover up and we focus our attention on how we appear to others so that they can’t see our flaws. But as water bearers, we must first embrace our emotional nature before we see its worth. To be able to sit with our joy/pain or another’s, to value those emotions and honor them as holy is a gift we give.
We live in a society that seeks to be either numb or distracted and is stuck in a limbo between boredom and over-stimulation. If we listen to everything we’re told in popular media, we can easily forget that we’re sacred and divine, the very image of our Creator. We might even think that as women, we’re only valuable if we’re pretty and smell good. We might lose touch with how our passionate, emotional nature balances apathy.
As I meditate on this image of water bearers, I think of the women at the foot of the cross and at Jesus’ tomb. I think about how women seem to be uniquely qualified to gather together to comfort, console and hold what is sacred and true. We wail together, cleansing with our tears. Our laughter is a shower of abundance and joy. Blessings to all my fellow water bearers this holy week.