Water and I have a complicated relationship; I could swim before I could walk and have never been scared in a boat or pool. We regularly went camping when I was a kid on the sandy edge of a quiet lake, swimming from dawn till dusk, catching frogs on the edges of ponds and when at my grandma's actual camp, fishing off the end of the dock for rock bass. After I outgrew camping with my family I still found myself drawn to the edge of the water, and lucky me, living on the northern edge of the largest freshwater lake in the world, it wasn't hard to find. When I was seventeen I scored a sweet job working up in Lake Superior Provincial Park doing natural heritage education. Part of my job was to spend half-days at the pictographs, attempting to interpret the images and talk about the geography of the area. (The pics at the link are worth taking a peek at!) There's a special quiet that can only be found on mornings in a place where the earth, water and sky all meet so dramatically. To this day, the pictographs are a sacred site to the First Nations people of the area and it's not hard at all to see why.
The complicated part of my relationship with water comes from the birth of my son, a traumatic, lengthy process that left me damaged in the body, mind and heart for years afterward. Nothing went as planned or as I wanted, up to and including the c-section that brought Gabe into the world. It was one disapointment after another and a sense of failure haunted me for months afterwards, turning into deep post-partum depression. I considered taking my own life but couldn't do that to my family. Nearly a year later, during the water ceremony at Pagan Pride in '07, I broke down in tears, unable to speak. Tears ARE water, a cleansing of the hurt we carry inside ourselves. Every time water comes up, I get teary; every ritual and ceremony we perform, water tugs at my heart and demands that I accept it's healing power.
Water IS life. We are born of water, cleansing, powerful. Water carries us before we are born, it heralds our imminent arrival in a warm flood, water in form of tears of joy announce that arrival, and sometimes are followed by the bitter tears of grief when that arrival is followed by swift departure. Rain, streams, ponds, lakes and rivers flow in an endless cycle, tying every person together on this planet. When oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico this past spring, it affected all of us, and we should all grieve together for the harm done. When there are over 3 billion people on Earth with no access to clean drinking water, including many First Nations people in Canada, that is a problem that hurts us all, and we should all be fighting to change this reality. Water is a human right as it is necessary for our survival, no matter what any peice of legislation or government says. If I have the right to life, I have the right to water.