Water is so obvious because it is almost everywhere — and where it isn’t, we notice its absence immediately. Water connects us. It is essential, a need all of us share and one that none can escape. What do I know about where my water comes from? What do I know about what’s done to my water before it comes flowing out of my tap? What do I put in my water before it disappears down my drain — soap, shampoo, cosmetics, laundry detergent, fragrances, fertilizers, pesticides? What do I know about my water table, and how fragile is it — is my neighborhood in danger of drought?
Theologians and scientists agree: ritual is good for the human soul. But I don’t like ritual much. It’s probably my Zen upbringing. If ritual is poetry in the realm of acts, then perhaps my poetic-action aesthetic is too used to the haiku or koan: short, unrehearsed, improvised, intentionally subversive. But one thing I do like about ritual is the creation of a sacred space. Rituals tend to start by casting a circle or otherwise setting a boundary in space around the participants — or else they take place within a sacred space that has already been established (like a stone circle or a cathedral). Within that boundary, the normal world and normal time is suspended, set aside; and the cosmos is re-created in miniature, resized to fit the human imagination.
In Episode 201 – Water Connects Us, we launch our new season’s theme: relationship and interconnection. Throughout this season we’ll be exploring our deep bonds with the natural world that gave birth to us and sustains us. We’ll take a deeper look at how we form relationships, how we connect to particular places, how we experience specific times in our lives, and what shapes our experiences. In nature-centered spirituality, water is both a metaphor for our deep interconnection, and a physical and spiritual example of it. In this episode we follow the trials and tribulations of a drop of the Colorado River, and visit the caffeine-laced shores of the Pacific Northwest; we marvel at underwater sculpture gardens and take a close look at the health of our oceans, as we explore our complex relationship with the waters of the Earth. In our Pro extension, we go deeper into the spiritual significance of water in Hinduism and how our relationship with purity shapes our expressions of religious devotion.
In Episode 102 Pro – Elementals of Style, we explore the role of the elements in religious and philosophical traditions from all over the world. From the periodic table of modern science to the three Cauldrons of Poesy in Celtic tradition, the four classic elements of ancient Greece and the innovative 8-circuit model — understanding how we organize the world around us can give us a glimpse into the complexity and subtlety of our own inner worlds. How can we craft a personal approach to the elements that gives us a useful map for the spiritual life and helps us reconnect with the natural world around us? We talk about how others have answered that question and share some of our own insights as well.