Water Celebration Stories
The following are stories shared by UUCA member and friends for our annual Water Celebration ritual.
From the Mocklar family: Our water comes (symbolically) from our annual vacation to the Adirondacks. My husband’s extended family has owned a “camp” (as they call the Craftsman-era cottages there) on Fourth Lake for more than 40 years. A generation of cousins has come there every summer of their lives — this year from as far away as Georgia, Pennsylvania and Hong Kong. A bevy of children and dogs enlivens the charming old house, and we enjoy each others’ company just sitting on the porch, fishing on the dock with the kids, canoeing or setting out on hikes — the same pleasures the family has enjoyed on exactly this ground for decades, without any need for all the things we seem to think we “need” in our usual daily lives. Our trip each year culminates in a whole-family competition at the half-century-old mini-golf course in town. I can think of nowhere more heavenly, so we wanted to share that little bit of cold-spring-fed love from the North.
From Allyce and Roberd Macon: Our fourteen year-old son, Will, is providing the water for our family this year. He and a group from his Scout troop went backpacking along the Appalachian Trail between Hogpen Gap and Unicoi Gap in North Georgia. They made nine miles the first day and camped at Chattahoochee Gap. There, from the spring that is the headwaters of the Chattahoochee River, they gathered water for cooking and to re-fill their water bottles for the next day. The water we bring is what remained in his bottle when he came off of the trail the next afternoon. (An additional 5 miles.) So, here at UUCA one of our youth has brought us water straight from the wellspring of the river that provides the needs of most of metro Atlanta. There’s got to be a sermon in there somewhere. 🙂
From Anonymous: The water represents the alcohol that I poured down the drain with the realization that I am an alcoholic. This summer, I joined Alcoholics Anonymous and, as I am recovering, I am on a spiritual journey, rejoicing in my sobriety and in having a chance at a second life.
From Ken Caudill: This summer has been a little rough since both Christine and I are unemployed. Kelly would have loved to go to the beach but we couldn’t afford it. Although she loves to sleep late, she loves the outdoors more. At least a dozen times this summer she has awakened me at 6:30 to go fishing, and sometimes we go to one of the area lakes, but mostly we go to the Chattahoochee. We dip a line, not caring if we really catch anything. A times we saw Canadian Geese flock as they honked their way down the river, flying under the I-285 Bridge and drowning out the traffic noise. Other times we saw Great Blue Herons, the polar opposite of Canadian geese: completely quiet as they fly by gracefully on a huge spread of wings. Then, of course, there’s the splash of the fish, letting us know they are present but unwilling to have breakfast with us. Mornings on the Chattahoochee are spiritual with the sermon Mother Nature gives.
From the Tinsley-Hook family: For the most part we are happy to be bringing up Sophia Joi in a wooded residential area where she has her very own swing set and garden, and can see rabbits, chipmunks, butterflies, even the occasional possum, every day in her own backyard. However, the wonderful fountains in the children’s play area in New York’s Central Park reminded us of all the rich gifts that come from sharing a common space with countless, unknown others. Women dressed in traditional Indian saris, uber-cool urban hipsters complete with piercings and tattoos, workers still wearing their cleaning uniforms or business suits from the office, tourists of every style and stripe…including ourselves trying not to look like tourists! So many varieties of humanity all finding our way to the fountains each day to let our children experience the simple, timeless pleasures of digging holes in the sand and splashing each other with water. Of all the amazing man-made sights and wonders to be experienced in Manhattan, Sophia’s favorite part of each day was the walk to Central Park to splash with other children in the fountains. Natural wonder in the midst of (some of) the world’s most impressive skyscrapers and traffic. We literally tried to bottle this wonder and joy by collecting some of the fountain water in a used soda bottle for our Ingathering service…
From Liz Bigler: Water was responsible for so much of the pleasure and the pain that I and the rest of our Coming of Age youth and advisors felt during our service trip in New Orleans. The rain from the hurricane, and the flooding from the canal breaks, had caused misery and pain for so many people and destroyed so much wildlife. In that sense, water was the reason we went.
Working in St. Bernard Parish, we could still see the water lines where entire blocks had been submerged. Meanwhile, the days were so HOT that we constantly had to think of making sure our own bodies had essential water. The extreme heat of the days brought a constant call for the youth to always, “Bring your water bottle,” “Is your water bottle filled?,” and “Don’t forget to drink your water.”
A makeshift nursery had been created on a big parking lot, and this is where we tended to grasses and trees which would eventually be transplanted. A large part of the job was making sure the plants had water, and creating makeshift reservoirs out of concrete blocks and rubber or plastic sheeting. We were told not to water the plants from the soil, but rather to drain and then fill up the reservoirs so the roots of the plants would grow strong in their search for water below.
Just when we thought we couldn’t stand it any more, the skies opened on the parking lot and poured down cool water to wash away our sweat and dirt.
On the last day of work, after sweating and digging the roots of marsh grasses, our UUCA youth went down to the cool water of Lake Pontchartrain. Standing there in hip waders, we observed the line of dead trees that the saltwater from the hurricane had destroyed. We dug with our shovels and hipwaders, hoping to make a difference. The rain poured on us again, refreshing and encouraging us.
From Devery Howerton: I am bringing water I collected from Wichita, Kansan where I went to visit cousins I had not seen in 53 years. I was separated from my cousins Lin and Peggy in 1957 when my mother died. My dad remarried a woman my mother’s family rejected and I lost touch with my cousins until last year when we found each other on Facebook! It was a bittersweet reunion as I went back to my Kansas roots and saw my mother’s grave for the first time, on which I sprinkled some of my father’s ashes (he died about 2 years ago). I’m glad to have had the opportunity to reconnect with my mother’s side of the family and to finally gain some closure on that period of my life. This water represents family ties, both precious and tenuous, but full of love, the unconditional love mothers can give.
From Jean Woodall: I spent two weeks at Penland School of Crafts, drawing, dancing and making a four-foot high paper mache puppet face, which was displayed during a show at the end of the two weeks. One of my teachers was from Bread and Puppets Theatre, and the other was a choreographer for Second City in Chicago.
From Rebecca Kaye: Our water comes from the faucet at our Grant Park home. This is the water that made up most of the milk that my body made for Elliott, that bathed him during his first year, that he splashed in when he first discovered how, and that filled the pool on our deck for Elliott’s first birthday “beach” party on the 4th of July. Plenty of sand got in the pool too from the sandbox his grandparents gave him for his birthday. This is the water that has kept all three of us clean and strong inside and out during Elliott’s first year of growth and development, with quite a lot of fun and joy sprinkled into the hard work of building a new parent-child relationship.
From Janet Weeks: Mother and Grandfather would take me from our row house in Philadelphia to Cape May, NJ for mini vacations, all we could afford. We’d stay in a friend’s house, walk the board walk, dance the Mexican Hat Dance at Convention Hall where each night there was a live band, and drive to Cape May Point in Grandfather’s old, green Ford. There we’d marvel at the concrete ship sunk just off shore after WWII to help prevent erosion. The Delaware River, the dividing line between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, emptied into the Atlantic Ocean at the Point. When I was nine, my mother remarried and from then on our family traveled to Cape May as often as possible. My new sister and I were allowed to walk to the local bakery each morning where we ordered a sticky bun and orange juice. At night she and I would dance the Cha Cha in a long line of kids around the Hall, and, with our parents, we’d comb the beach at the Point for Cape May diamonds, little pieces of granite that were worn smooth by the tumbling of the waves. Now Clarke and I vacation every few years in Cape May, and we stay with family and friends. This water comes from Delaware Bay.