Monday, January 08, 2007

H2O and the Waters of Remembrance

This past weekend I walked with Krista along the banks of frozen Lac Beauvert. {At least, it was mainly frozen. Every once in a while we would hear sharp rumbling noises as the ice cleaved and cracked.} We were there as guests of Krista’s parents, who had brought us to the venerable Jasper Park Lodge, as a generous family Christmas gift. It was here, over a weekend when we remember the renewal of all creation in Christ – commemorated by the blessing of water – that I had the chance to reflect upon the goodness of the past two weeks.

We were out in BC for ten days with family and friends: carols with my Mom and Dad, Vancouver with Kim, Deep Cove with Ryan Wugalter and my good old friend Erik Hermans (who I haven't seen in years), walks at Cultus Lake with the Lanteignes, and, of course the Jordans' epic New Years’ party. It was a Psalm 133-type of holiday, in that the goodness of simply being together broke up most of the clouds of gloom that often attempts to haunt holidays with family and friends.

Krista and I skipping stones with Amy and our Godson Owen Lanteigne at Cultus Lake.

It is intriguing to me how much of our liturgical worship focuses on water. Not surprisingly, most of the 32 readings for Theophany are entirely centred upon images of water. Likewise each Vespers (for the day begins at sundown) lifts up Psalm 104, rehearsing how God provides water for all of His Creation. From each of our own places of imprisonment we have been offered a "way out," literally an exodos through "water and the spirit."

Some years ago, Ivan Illich wrote a compelling essay entitled "H2O and the Waters of Forgetfulness." in which he contrasts mere "H2O" to the allusive element we call "water." His argument highlighted our constant temptation to reduce the good through comodification. In myth and Scripture, water takes on a much more potent, and polyvalent meaning than simply its chemical ingredients. In Genesis, as in Gilgamesh, water stands for chaos. But it is also charged with holiness as it close to death and life. It is the void out of which dry land is redeemed. The sea usually takes on this chaotic character. It is wild, untamable and free. Rivers are places of transformation - often cleansing and healing (think of the Jordan River or the River that flows through the New Jerusalem). This year, storms compromised the city of Vancouver's water, forcing millions to change their daily routines and stand in temporary solidarity with those for whom clean water is a luxury.

So I raise a glass (of water) to our dear friends and family near and far. With the Feast!

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Blogger Jay and Milissa Ewing said...

Water...ahh. I remember well the water shortage here in Vancouver. Lining up at the water bottling stations and having the water run out was a poignant reminder to me that the next great wars will most likely be fought over this precious commodity.

I think it is great how the Orthodox bless the water, a great sign of our reliance upon it, and God's mastery over it.

I always enjoy your blogs, sorry we missed you at Christmas.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

I saw those photos, but didn't realize you and Krista were in them! What a blessing.

Happy Feast to you and yours!

4:39 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

The nature of water has always led me to these kinds of thoughts - we can't survive a day without it, yet we can never really control it. The waters remain a source of danger and chaos, and remind us that we're not really in charge, much as we might pretend we are.

Anywho, must leave computer before the rest of my afternoon disappears. Are you two back in Eddy-town yet? We need to have you over so you can see our ultrasound pic!

Talk to you soon,


1:47 PM  
Blogger cyrilla said...

I love the symbol of water, I think I always have but being orthodox amplifies it. For me it's the meaning of cleansing and healing that really touches me. As a result, I love the story of the Samaritan woman with the discussion of living water. I wish there was more water around Calgary (as in lakes, beaches)... I find that I have to drive too far to find water in nature. Oh well.

2:47 PM  
Blogger kimberley said...

that is such a lovely picture.
nice one. (gabe, i'm guessing, unless that's gabe in krista's embrace and it's o taking the pic?)

5:36 PM  
Blogger kimberley said...

i meant that much more innocently than it read the second time.

anyway, you're beautiful and lovely all 5 of you! :)

5:38 PM  

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