“Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows.” – Ezekiel 47:9
Today’s reading from Ezekiel reminds us that in the desert of the Hebrew Scriptures, the presence of water literally brought life to the people. Without water their crops and communities would perish.
While our ancestors were keenly aware of their dependence on Mother Earth, in the United States today many people, sadly, have become disconnected from their water source, land, and, ultimately, a sense of place and belonging. Throughout this past year, however, the courageous struggle of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reawakened us to an important concept that our ancestors understood: “Mni Wiconi” which means “Water is Life” in the Lakota language.
Many (but not all) of us have the luxury of going throughout our day without thinking about access to clean water, and as a result, we forget what a sacred and sustaining gift it is. Water is our life-force, and while the protests at Standing Rock have ended for now, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Tribal Nations, and allies bravely witnessed what it looks like to protect what is sacred. As noted Senegalese forestry engineer, Baba Dioum, states, “In the end we will protect only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”
We protect what we love, and God calls us to fall in love with the land where we live. Only out of love can we access the life-giving waters that sustain us in our work for justice. The Water Protectors at Standing Rock have demonstrated that resistance is an act of love and challenge us to rise up each day to protect what we love most dearly.
We protect what we love; God calls us to fall in love w the land where we live #RiseUpLentClick to tweet
- How will I cultivate gratitude for the gift of water throughout my day today?
- How can I fall in love with the place where I live?
- What is one thing I can do to reconnect with the land (rural or urban) today?
- What do I love enough that I’d be willing to leave everything behind to protect it?
Brenna Davis is director of Education for Justice and environmental initiatives for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 and served in Cleveland as a Jesuit Volunteer. She previously taught theology, coached cross country, and served as main office coordinator at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School. During her time there she was the self-proclaimed assistant to the director of facilities in all sustainability initiatives on campus. She is a certified spiritual director and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler.