Friday, December 16, 2005

Water as a Christmas Gift

"Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water. Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible, nothing can surpass it.” Lao-Tze, Chinese philosopher.

Much has been written about water. This precious liquid is essential to growing crops and, therefore, plays an significant role in our efforts to end world hunger.

Water is also a powerful symbol of cleansing and renewal, more often associated with baptisms and Easter. The powers of renewal are just as relevant in the Advent and Christmas season. Think of water as a mountain stream that turns into a beating heart awaiting the birth of Christ.

So as we approach Christmas, I would like to share this prayer, a gift from Franciscan Sister Joan Brown. Joan, a good friend of Bread for the World-New Mexico, wears many hats in her service to the poor and God's Earth. Among other things, she serves on the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council and the Ecological Ministry at the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and is involved with Pax Christi. She was recently elected to the national board of directors of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.

Prayer of Water

"Be praised my God for Sister Water who is useful, humble, precious and pure."

As St. Francis prayed in great gratitude for Sister Water,
we pray in thankfulness for her life sustaining generosity.
Oh, water, in your mysterious beauty you cause the desert to bloom.
One tiny drop spread collected with thousands of drops
waters seeds and future harvests to feed us and all creatures.
One tiny drop multiplied quenches our burning thirst.
Our bodies, like the body of earth, are over 75% water.
We are a water people.
We are a water planet.
Oh compassionate God, Creator who breathed over the waters
we seek forgiveness for our mindless use of water.
We beg for wisdom to know how to conserve and cherish water,
We ask healing for the ways that we disrespect and contaminate our sister.
In this drought time we wait and watch for the gift of rain upon earth.
We watch and wait for the rain of grace into our souls.
Come free us from hatred, greed, fear, and our lack of love for your gifts upon earth.
Transform us into living streams of water
flowing green and moist with life, hope and love for earth and all peoples.

We pray this prayer in the name of God who is gracious Creator, Jesus who is
Eternal Word, and Spirit who is Wellspring of Wisdom.

Joan Brown, OSF, Ecological Ministry of the Social Justice Office, Archdiocese of Santa Fe

[Note: The above image is the cover for the book Water: Life Force, Wet, Wonderful and Life-inspiring, authored by Maggie Black. The book celebrates water – its history and its many roles in the human and natural world. The author delves into literary, historical and folkloric sources for extracts and quotations that highlight and complement more than 90 photographs demonstrating the majesty of water. These images range from natural wonders, such as oceans, mighty rivers and snow-capped mountains, to everyday scenes of people interacting with water; planting seedlings, boiling kettles and jumping puddles].

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Banding Together as ONE during Advent

In the midst of the season of Advent, the ONE Campaign is asking us to make ONE Big Noise.

Wait a minute.

Isn't Advent supposed to be a quiet time of reflection and hope?

As Dennis Bratcher says in CRI/Voice, "Advent is marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing."

Preparation, anticipation, longing.
These are all quiet activities.

So what's this ONE Big Noise all about?

Well, Advent is also identified with the ranting voice of John the Baptist, who appeared in the desert proclaiming "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." (Mark 1:3).

Our preparation to receive the Lord also calls for us to reflect on injustices around us and respond appropriately.

As Bratcher goes on to say:
"There is a yearning for deliverance from the evils of the world, first expressed by Israelite slaves in Egypt as they cried out from their bitter oppression. It is the cry of those who have experienced the tyranny of injustice in a world under the curse of sin, and yet who have hope of deliverance by a God who has heard the cries of oppressed slaves and brought deliverance!"

So in that spirit, I welcome the call by The ONE Campaign to Make ONE Big Noise. We are asked to lift our voices to President George W. Bush asking him to ensure that the Doha Round of trade talks for the World Trade Organization places a priority on fighting poverty by making trade fair. The latest WTO summit under the Doha Round is scheduled for Dec. 13 in Hong Kong.

Many local groups and communities around the world involved in the
Make Poverty History campaign will underscore this request to President Bush and all world leaders by holding a rally or some other special event on Saturday, Dec. 10, which has been designated as International White Band Day.

But I fear that we risk losing the spirit of Advent if we concentrate just on "Making ONE Big Noise." We must not forego the reflection and hope that comes with the season.

Therefore, I would propose that we think of our response more as ONE Big Light, and not as much as ONE Big Noise. Advent is a time to light candles. A time that we stay still. If we each light our individual candles at home, we can all become ONE Big Light of hope for the poor of the World.

Advent is especially symbolized by hope, which is what our One Campaign and Make Poverty History white wrist bands represent. So we can also celebrate the season by joining our individual white bands to become ONE Big White Band.

[Note: The ONE Campaign banner pictured above was a cooperative effort by two Albuquerqueans: award-winning designer Maggie MacNab of Macnab Design and photographer Pat Berrett. Heidi Brooks, Roxanne Allen & Louisa Streng from the local RESULTS group also provided input on the design of the banner]