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Water Is Life: Especially If You Walk The Walk

As the Water Walkers spoke in hushed tones around the sacred fire, our Letter to Water was reflected in the lake before us. Across the lagoon were the gathering tribes, watching our messages, while hearing the water song. WATER, WE LOVE YOU. WE RESPECT YOU. WE THANK YOU.


It was pretty hectic, changing words out in real time, running to the van to get the next letters, and it didn't go without a hitch when the tail of the "R" wouldn't turn on and somehow PAY FOR WATER didn't seem an appropriate substitute for PRAY FOR WATER. And then, with a frustrated punch to the battery box, we were back in luck with PRAY. The little stagehand dramas of our funky alphabetic constraints are never seen from afar, and in spite of our struggles the view was stunning: Grandmother Mandamin and her sisters in a circle around the sacred fire, the large teepee gently lit and standing stable behind them, offering a focal point as  the purple void of Lake Michigan whispered her way into the velvet night.

Water is Life Message 4

Pray for Water 4

Making a New Message

We held our messages, and packed up the lights quickly. Hectic. We had only a few minutes before the fire canoes came across the lagoon, and the vans were waiting to take us back across the shoreline to the access road that reconnects the park to the mainland. We watched the impressive Indian Summer fireworks safely from the shoreline, thumping our chests like CPR and blossoming over the night sky. So much commotion! One of our Holders of the Light, Peg, came up to me in hushed tones, said to me that she was so honored to be in the company of a woman like Grandmother Mandamin. I suggested that she go tell the elder that, tell her that we all admired her tenacity and heart and that we were inspired by her walks down the St Lawrence Seaway, around the Great Lakes, exchanging waters, gathering waters, talking water as she went. I could see Peg talking to the Grandmother, and a beautiful thing happened: a blessing, a benediction, a gentle tickle of the breeze from a set of eagle feathers shaped an envelope of air around Peg, while at the same moment, as she told me afterwards, shivers went up and down her body.

Watching Indian Summer Fireworks 2

Grandmother Josephine Mandamin, a Water Walker, slows the world down around her, places her body on the line, each step saying "we are here, we are here, we are here." Grandmother Mandamin says, “Collecting consciousness is not easy to explain. But when we are walking with the water, we are also collecting thoughts with that water. And in the collecting of thoughts, we are also collecting consciousness of people’s minds. The minds, hopefully, will be of one, sometime.” [1]

The walk is spiritual, is actual, is political, is environmental. There is video of this lovely woman, this elder who is old enough to be enjoying a rocking chair and birds at the bird feeder, and in it she shuffles down the road, feet close to the ground, oddly reminiscent of indigenous dance that I see at the powwows. She carries a pail - water from the ocean, water to mix in the beautiful freshness of Lake Superior. Water from one basin to another, a gathering of molecules, of thoughts, of people, of tribes.

So when we were asked to be a part of this ceremony for water, we didn't hesitate. We didn't understand that we'd be standing by a woman who walks, but we knew that we are thirsty to stand for something meaningful, to light some messages reflected in water, to water, about water in the dryness of the oncoming night. I laughed at the irony of the broken tail of my letter "R," as I struggled at the site of the sacred fire to turn PAY FOR WATER into PRAY FOR WATER. We didn't quite have time to get the Water Song right, but nobody cared, it was still beautiful.

WATER WE LOVE YOU
WE RESPECT YOU
WE THANK YOU.

So tell me. Yes, you! Have you walked around any of the Great, or even lesser, Lakes recently? You know, you can start right outside of your door, and like water, move until you get somewhere deeper.


Water We Love You 1