St Matthews Digital
26 March 2017
Flowing from Lent towards Easter
Dr Robin Kearns, Auckland University, spoke in a Lenten series on Water about our approach and attitudes to water in our everyday lives
Dr Robin Kearns
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Flowing from Lent towards Easter
Could a cutter. Thank you Helen for the invitation and thank you to my wife. Pat for with whom I bounced a few ideas and that secular Labyrinth otherwise called st. Luke's mall yesterday. So some thoughts around the theme of flowing from lent towards Easter, This last Wednesday, if any of you might have missed, it was World water day since 1993. This day has recognized the importance of universal access to clean water in developing countries as well as the more General sustainable management of freshwater resources everywhere perhaps that day needs greater recognition. It's there for timely. Perhaps to ask. What is the place of water?
In our prayer, Our relationships, our being in the world for me, when I reflect on that question, there's no experience more sacred and prayerful than when I'm in the mountains pack on my back. When I descend upon my hands and knees thirsty and cup to my mouth, handfuls of water from a stream clean filtered by roots and Moss.
So along with air water is self-evidently, perhaps a critical requirement of sustaining life.
It's a banal statement, maybe, but without water, All Creatures eventually suffer and die.
In short water is a fundamental physiological need. And so the simple act of giving water to the Thirsty, whether they be people animals or plants is an act of Mercy.
And notwithstanding the recent floods we've had in Auckland. These are changing times in terms of planetary first, when drought is at the door of many, when the presence and the purity of water is under threat.
In these times, we are surely called to reflect on the significance of water flowing, not just through our planet, but also through our lives beyond sustaining our bodies and the bodies of other sentient beings water, fulfills higher-order purposes in our human lives. It has cleansing properties. Washing away, dirt and bodily, wastes.
It meets our social needs encouraging. Playfulness, watch families at a beach.
Water also appeals to our sense of beauty, consider fountains and waterfalls.
So according to psychologist, Abraham Maslow, water meets a complete hierarchy of our needs in our lives, from the basic physiological of thirst. Right up to what he calls self-actualization that affirmation of our identity that comes from seeing water as Beauty.
For us on our faith Journeys. Water is also deeply, sacramental and symbolic. We can add that to Maslow's hierarchy, perhaps, yet, if our experience of water in our everyday lives becomes compromised polluted. Can it retain a sacred place in our lives? I think that is a question. We need to ponder On the shores of Lake Erie in Canada in the mid-1980s, I had the opportunity of being as part of a collective dialogue with Thomas Berry who rather than a theologian calls himself a geologic on.
he pointed to the murky Waters saying if we allow water ways to become polluted, our understanding of baptism itself, becomes degraded I found that a very challenging statement to reflect on.
Barry was saying that if the power of the symbol, Has any Integrity, then it needs to be sustained by the Integrity of its elements.
If we are surrounded by impure, if not dangerous water.
Then mainly maybe baptism loses. Some of its meaning So offering water to the Thirsty that comes from, the imperative of baptism is but the beginning of Mercy in the rest of my comments, I want to suggest that if we are Christians. We also need to act in the defense of the quality of water.
Three images in the media have recently spoken to me of the fragile sense of Fred freshwater in New Zealand, first images of herds of cattle straying into lakes and rivers defecating into lakes and rivers.
Farming has long been our country's sacred cow. It has been the source of our Collective wealth. Yes. But the problem is that to question its practices. Can sometimes be seen as tantamount to treason Yet public opinion is turning. We can surely no longer go with the flow and accept farming as priority over National water quality.
Consents have been granted for the extraction and export of billions of litres of Artesian water.
That this water is bottled and exported has added to the sense of national outrage.
But our multinational corporations, extracting and bottling water, any more morally questionable than large-scale, irrigation for dairying in otherwise, arid parts of our country.
Third image, very recent. Only saw it on social media yesterday, forest and bird, to which we belong. Just Ruiz received a donation of five million dollars from a couple wanting to strengthen the organization's commitment to defending, fresh water in aotearoa.
In other recent activism students marched on Wellington presenting a petition calling for all freshwater in New Zealand to be swimmable.
It's important to have ideals.
If polluting waterways is a sin of commission, then surely failing to appreciate the essential value of water, is a sin of omission in these morally arid times.
Oh, government is proposing way durable and both of all as water quality, bottom lines.
Do we really want rivers that are only safe to Wade in? What about to swimmin to play in together Watercress from?
Boat of all, what about potable?
Drinkable, let's lift the bar and expand, and promote, the contention that our waterways must support an acceptable standard of ecological, health and meets a range of human needs.
One problem, it seems to me, is that a regional approach to freshwater management sees large slabs of our political landscape in charge of water policy? What about the local?
One of Thomas Berry's, enduring concerns was a bioregional Consciousness. Bringing our not just our thinking, but our passion down to the level of the water catchment.
Have we lost a love for our local waterways? That's a question. We might consider as dwellers of the city.
A useful exercise. At this time might therefore be to think about the water within your local catchment.
Do you know the boundaries of your local water catchment?
Where does rainfall flow to within your neighborhood? Where is your closest stream? Where does It ultimately exit to the see? What life does it support? How can we support its health?
We need to challenge ourselves to take a Fresh Approach to water to re appreciate the blessing that it is to feel it too. Maybe even taste it in you.
Perhaps, we might walk outside without an umbrella in the next shower of rain, as if a drought has broken as if our body and our being had forgotten the blessing of being wet.
As we approach, Good Friday. We recall that on the cross. Jesus said, I thirst. Two simple words. I thirst most literally to thirst is to feel the body crying out to be quenched, and to maintain life But as a metaphorical level, and we've heard many water metaphors in the service already this morning. To First is also to yearn for something that is seemingly unattainable.
We thirst for justice. We first for Community, we thirst for acceptance, and we thirst for God. The psalmist sings my soul thirsts for the as in a dry and weary land where no water is that has metaphor at its most powerful.
It is time. We also had a thirst for Pure Waters.
In his Soulful song of Water Crisis, the Contemporary psalmist. My tongues a little and cheek but my the Contemporary Sam is Dave Dobbin who lives in this city sings, where you going to be, when the river don't run, no more. Who you going to run to when the deserts at your door when there isn't any more.
We tend to have a taken-for-granted presumption that water will flow when we need it.
We have a taken-for-granted presumption that water is on tap for daily needs.
What should we first four?
Surely we should first for a land in which rivers flow clean. So the intrinsic value of life is upheld.
To lose that first is to lose our passion for a just and merciful world a world in which, as Thomas Berry said, the water of baptism is a potent and pure symbol.
If we and the generations that follow us fail to know Waters, distinguished by Clarity Purity liveliness, baptism itself will be reduced to a token symbol dispensed from the same plastic containers that are filled and exported by corporations from our Springs.
As a footnote, I the opportunity last month to spend some time in the nation, the Maldives in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. And they're from a distance. Every island looks like the perfect image of a tropical island.
And yet when you get there, the beaches are just littered. The would have been a dozen plastic bottles and every square meter washed up.
I want to close by saying that in the last week there has been a note of Hope and that is important as we journey towards Easter.
Indications of Hope are so important that hope to me at least is that the whanganui river has become the world's first Waterway to be granted the legal status of a person.
Some will see that as crazy.
Mad a city as a river as a person perhaps. However, this is prophetic indeed. I saw that India, very quickly is moving towards the Ganges being given the same legal status. It seems to me that grunting the river.
Legal status is a root out of dualism. It offers a third way. It's perhaps exact, an example of what Mystic Cynthia, Bozo calls, a trinitarian metaphysics, the move acknowledges that the life, force of the river that runs through.
All of us will flow on even after we are gone.
It gets beyond all the Contemporary dualism, is of Maori party are yours, mine resource, or sacred it suggests that the river has wider ER Spirit it speaks to three persons.
Three persons. And yet, one life like the Trinity, you me the river. So take a walk along your own River. My river is Oakley Creek.
Across towards the west from here. Treat the river as having personhood, as you walk beside it, see how that feels in Even elegies book H2O and the Waters of forgetfulness. He writes of the Paradox of water. That is both a domestic necessity and a spiritual force. And that to me, is the tension that we live with In so many ways we've lost the sacred for instance, we talked about housing.
As a tradable currency and in so doing, we lose the sense of dwelling. The sacred sense of dwelling somewhere.
So, to perhaps in speaking of water as a resource, we lose some of its sacredness so water has historically moved from a spiritual Purity to H2O a scientifically purified form of water that comes through our Taps. It comes through our Taps necessarily purified. But so purified that we want to buy bottles of more purified water, that doesn't have the chemicals in that comes through our Taps. How about that for a contradiction So to close two Sundays ago, we experience a different sort of water day and Auckland water day like we haven't seen before. At least I haven't in the wake of month's worth of rain falling in two days. Our local Creek, Tiana Oakley Creek was a raging torrent.
And then later on that day, we were asked to save water.
To save on water consumption, what a paradox.
For a time it seemed as if there was water water everywhere, but too little clean enough to drink.
We live with these paradoxes and contradictions. As we journey as James K Baxter writes, an Autumn Testament the creek has to run. Muddy. Before it can run clear.
We too must embrace the murkiness of Lenten questions before we reach the clarity of Easter Waters.