the memory of water – sacred space

this space was designed for Sunday afternoon’s moment… It was the least labour-intensive sacred space i’ve ever designed, just requiring bowls of water, jugs, glasses and food colouring… it was probably the most difficult physical space i’ve worked in for a while – a cavernous hall, uncovered windows that went forever, 150 people, a cold afternoon, i was really unwell, thank god for sam who came and made it all happen…


Since time became time
there has been water
and since people became people
we have been drawn to its edge

and we stand here,
watching for the breath of God
moving over the water,
calling us to wade into the deep
and be washed in mystery…

[as people moved to stations we played Labradford’s ‘Twenty’, and used this video loop]

station 1:

[water jugs filled with icy cold water, glasses, this image]

It was easy to be thirsty
when the water was everywhere
when the world was covered with it
when everywhere we looked, you were.

Somewhere, sometime
the water dried up

and as the cracks have appeared
in the soil of our world
we’ve covered them over
with anything we can find,
until even we have forgotten
the thirst that lies underneath.

We no longer wait for rain
and the underground rivers are drying up,

We have lost the taste of water.
We have forgotten how to thirst.

It takes great courage to ask for what might not be given.
It takes such faith to need what might never come.

if you long for that faith
drink deep…

station 2:

[bowl of salt, bowl of water, pages from newspaper]

You promised there would never again be a flood that would destroy all the world, God,

and yet just a week ago a million people had their world destroyed in Burma.

You promised.

Did you change your mind, God?

Was it a promise you no longer wanted to live up to?

Or a promise beyond your power in the beginning?

Were we putting words into your mouth,
because we needed you to be the God who could?

Add salt to the water…
let it be tears for those in Burma who have no-one to cry for them,
who have no one left to remember
they were ever alive.

Add salt to the water…
let it be tears for our grief that God is not
who we would want God to be.

station 3:

[bowl of water]

What memory does this water hold?

Can it tell a story of seeping through rocks, inside the earth, for a millennia
or being frozen inside a glacier for centuries?

Has it been one drop
in a literal ocean
washing relentlessly against the rocks of ancient landforms
shaping the earth as we now know it?

Has it quenched the thirst of a parched desert
and flooded whole countries with devastating waves?

Has it rained on the just and the unjust?

Has it been cried in tears of relief
by our ancestors a thousand years ago,
and their ancestors ten thousand before?

Has it birthed the babies of our neighbours
and washed the bodies of their dead?

If the water holds histories stories of faithfulness, resilience, fragility, tragedy, ecstasy,
it can hold all of your story too.

Write what you need to tell today into the water with your finger.

station 4:

[bowl of water with blue food colouring – and we would have used a clip from Whalerider too, but that didn’t happen…]

Remember when the water called you,
when you could no more resist its call
than forget to breathe.

Remember when you would willingly drown in the water
because the life it would give
was worth dying for

or because you knew
you could only find life
through drowning.

If you remember –
or if you long to remember –
mark the back of your hand with the sign of a cross…

gathering back:

[we played Glosoli by Sigur Ros to draw people back, then finished with this blessing:]

If you have been standing at the edge of the ocean
and paddling your feet in the calm shallows,
look beyond.

May you leave here with the faith to yearn for the vast and endless sea.