if i were called in to construct a religion…

If i were called in
to construct a religion,
I should make use of water…

– Phillip Larkin, Water

I went to church on Sunday for a baptism. It seems to be baptisms that get me back to church at the moment, and I can’t think of a better reason. I’m a big fan of baptism, especially infant baptism.

I love that water has been around forever… that the water that baptised Lucy on Sunday has washed over every generation before her. And before there were people on earth, this same water carved valleys and coastlines… Water has shaped our landscape, and it shapes our lives.

I tried to block my ears to the words of the service on Sunday – only because the words always seem to try too hard to describe that which can’t be said. Instead I just looked at Lucy, this gorgeous little bundle of life, being washed in this water that has both been around forever, and keeps her alive right now… I thought about how even though she has no concept of that, her parents who loved her into being were giving her over to that truth… That all the people in that community of friends and family, who love her and make sure she has water to drink and wash her clean, also know that there are things to this life that are beyond them – and for that reason we wash her in this water that holds the memory of the tears and dirt and thirst of all life before and beyond her. That’s why I love baptism.

If I were called in to construct a religion, I should make use of water…

That said, I’m not a fan of water at the moment. I remember saying to someone a few weeks ago that if i had to pick one element to work with and explore for the rest of my time, I’d pick water. But then my apartment was flooded, which has been horrendous, and a million times worse than that [so much worse that i’m embarrassed to write it in the same sentence], there was a tsunami in samoa and tonga… and now when i picture water it’s laden with debris, and tainted with the smell of decay and mould and the ruin of lives. Maybe that’s not a bad image though: the story isn’t always clean; the ritual has to be held hand in hand with reality.

But I read Mark Vernon’s article yesterday, and heard the call again – that since i love ritual and celebration, and know how much i need them, that my challenge is to offer places and moments for people who can’t block their ears to the words, but know they need to wash themselves in water that connects them to a story of life that’s bigger than us…

We are beginning to plan for Advent. I’m traveling to Marysville and Kinglake on Thursday to start the planning for that with Mike and David. We’re going to have a go at creating public waiting spaces that offer moments of transformation and ritual… where people will know themselves as part of a larger story, and be made different through the knowing. I know it’s going to be harder than we think it will be to make that happen. More after we’ve met…


  1. Kel

    water and religion
    seemingly at opposite ends of the scale
    one is hard to control, fluid, and transparent
    the other is often all about control, solidifying and keeping things obscure


    public waiting spaces for those areas sounds very challenging
    may you be blessed with uncommon wisdom

  2. Sue


    What if all of this is really nothing but infinitely radiant conscious water, or put in another way ALL of this is floating in a radiant sea of conscious light?

    All living biological forms, including the human form are temporary structured or organized water.
    We live in a watery world.
    No water no life.
    The human body is 75-80% water.
    The work of Masuru Emoto via The Secret Life of Water (etc) shows that water molecules respond to prayer, and thus become more radiant.
    What if every cell of our bodies were thus radiant? And what would our lives and culture begin to look like if we were all thus radiant.
    What kind of food would we also thus eat. A hamburger or steak made of dead flesh which is subtly infused with the terror that the animal experienced in the slaughter-house. Or freshly grown mostly raw and minimally processed food which is still full of bio-energy. And served with loving-kindness.

    Plus of course water has always been used as a potent symbol for Spiritual Life.

    All religions and their associated rituals, dogmas and theologies are attempts by humans to control the vast realm of chaos and flux of this less than hospitable world process.

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