Bob Scott – Director, Faith Formation and Education at Trinity Wall Street, New York – introduces a Lent study guide made available as part of the JustWater programme.
In his memoir, Speak Memory, novelist Vladimir Nobokov recalls his Great Aunt Pascha’s final words: “Now I understand. Everything is water.” Readers have wrestled for years with the meaning of this passage. Was she saying that everything flows? Or that life is fluid? Or was she simply acknowledging a literal reality?
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, water covers about seventy-one percent of our planet’s surface. Ninety-six percent is in the oceans, the rest in rivers and lakes, glaciers and aquifers, or hovering in the air as vapor. And then there’s the water inside us – or perhaps we should say the water that is us. Adult humans are about sixty percent water, down from being more than ninety-seven percent as six-week-old embryos.
Just as water is universal, so are water crises. Of all that water, less than one percent is drinkable. Today, roughly 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, according to the World Water Council. The World Health Organization projects that in less than a decade, half the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.
The crisis looks different, depending on your context. Drought-stricken sub-Saharan African countries need more water. Islands in Polynesia that are succumbing to sea-level rise prompted by climate change need less. If your water comes from a tap, it can be difficult to imagine a life where someone (almost always a female) must walk half a day to get water for the family.
That is why JustWater2017 reached out to the Anglican Communion Environmental Network to create these Lenten meditations. Each is written from a distinct global perspective. Our hope is that, in using these guides for Lenten reflection, groups and individuals will grow in their understanding of how we are interconnected. “In a multitude of ways and to varying degrees, we are a large part of the problem, and we can be part of the solution,” write the Rev. Canon Jeff Golliher, Ph.D., and the Rev. Terrie Robinson, editors.
The guide is available in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, as a pdf and as an app. The writers offer scripture, prayers, personal reflections, and resources to go deeper. In the classic formula of “think globally, act locally,” these will help us do both. Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, has written that “Lent is about becoming, doing, changing, whatever it is that is blocking the fullness of life in us right now.” Where water is denied, life cannot flourish, or even survive. We hope that these meditations may, in small and simple ways, lead us on a path to healing ourselves and the planet we share.
Find out more and download the full study guide on the Trinity Institute website here.