The Water Bearers

my little guy

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.

14 thoughts on “The Water Bearers

  1. This is absolutely beautiful, Karen. I kept getting goose bumps as I read more. And I’ll read it again and again.
    You are so right as you address the role of women being water carriers. I’d never realized how in tune I was to the water-woman relationship until I read your words and reflected on my daily habits. Watering seedlings in the window, running a bath for my husband…keeping the fire at bay that I just photographed a few days ago.

    I’ve been meaning to e-mail you about using some of your beautiful words in my next Bravery post for Christy’s site. Are you game? Of course, I’ll link back to your posts, but I don’t want to do anything without your permission. The hardest part will be picking which paragraphs or passages to use, but I’m leaning toward a paragraph I saw in your “Buzz” post as well as one above. They are all beautiful. I hope you are compiling a book?


    1. You’re welcome to quote anything you want. I’m honored!

      I love hearing that you get the woman/water bearer connection too. There’s just something about the image that speaks to me. It’s funny that you mention a book because I’m probably the only blogger I know who doesn’t have that ambition! I like the immediacy of blogging.


      1. Thank you so much! I’ll be sure to let you know which one(s) I use.
        I, too, like the immediacy of blogging. I was just thinking how passages like yours are those that I crack open to a favorite spot in a book and read right before I drift off to sleep. Something so soothing and poetic about the way you write 🙂


  2. Lovely post, Karen. Love the image of water being raw emotion. It also reminded me of the womb, with the safety and the ability to bring warmth and life to our planet as well.

    I wish all the water bearers in my life, in all shapes and forms, a wonderful day and week. 🙂

    Thank you for this, Karen



  3. This is so touching. All I could think about, though, was the recent story out of Portland where they’ve had to dump millions of gallons of drinking water because some kid thought it would be funny to pee in it. Just like this kid, the media telling us that we must be beautiful to be valuable are pissing on our water bearers.


  4. Thoughtful post with a message we all need to hear. I’ve always struggled with keeping emotion in check to make others more comfortable, including myself. Especially like this line: “We might lose touch with how our passionate, emotional nature balances apathy.” This is the very important flipside to those emotions many women struggle with. Thanks for this beautiful post. Love the photo too. Adorable.


    1. Thank you! I fought my nature for a long time thinking that being emotional equated to being weak and I know other women struggle with the same thought. I embrace it now, especially in sobriety where allowing myself to feel emotion has saved my life. Thank you for your words!


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