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  • Writer's pictureDan Robinson

The Gift of Water: a World Water Day Meditation

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

During this week of World Water Day, here's a meditation on the gift and necessity of water, with a series of photos and videos from the Great Lakes Basin, as well as quotes from people who have been interviewed for the Great Lakes Spirituality Project. I hope you enjoy! (All photos and video by Dan Robinson.)

Lake Michigan Shore

“(The Great Lakes are) 20%, of the world's freshwater. So if you looked at it simply as a natural resource, you would consider it socially sacred, we need the water, clean water for our future. But it's a special place unlike any other in the world. And I think it awakens a lot of spiritual reactions for people who live or visit the Great Lakes... It comes with a sense of responsibility and stewardship, that I think affects a lot of people.

Ice and waves along Lake Michigan

“Water has taught me the power of surrender. And it’s given me freedom. It feels like everything is in flow.”

Lake Michigan along Wisconsin

“There's something about human beings have this desire to live near water. It might be something related to in the womb, or it's just something that is part of our DNA, that we really like to be connected to the water... I think, from my own practice as a Hindu, and then also bringing this back to my Catholic side as well, there's a sense that the Lakes and water are a place where we can meet the sacred very directly.”

Sunrise at Point Beach State Forest, Wisconsin

“Water is our most ancient relative, not just a resource.”

Lake Michigan Rolls

“We’re in the heart of Turtle Island. We exist on the arteries of this place. As Anishinaabe people, that's Ojibwe. That’s Odawa. That’s Potawatomi. The Great Lakes is us. And all the waterways that go out, those main arteries of that Turtle, are places that we have traversed and cared for and have been a part of our life. And if you look at our culture, the women are the ones that care for the water. So if you talk about the spirituality of the Great Lakes. Really, what it comes down to is the spirituality, or the responsibility, of our Anishinaabe women.”

Silver River Falls, Upper Peninsula of Michigan

“It’s just forever interesting to understand where you live in your watershed.”

Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan

“We lost our connection to water... and so now, what we’re trying to do is reconnect people to these amazing natural resource, and give them a compelling experience, develop a sense of wonder about them, and that hopefully can lead them to care.”

Lake Michigan in the early morning

“We are like drops of water... the Lakes, the ocean, the seas include all of us.”

Embarrass River, Wisconsin

“One of the issues people would have is very often they would have farms along a river, and stuff gets into the river. Well, the person downstream would complain saying, ‘I didn't do this. I can't drink the water anymore. It's not even good for my crops anymore. What kind of recourse do I have?’ The rabbis said if you live upstream, you can't dirty the water, because someone downstream is going to be affected. So, the sense of responsibility of the resource, and how it affects people, was already very much ingrained 2000 years ago by rabbinical decree.”

Sunset on the Bay of Green Bay

“Many of us go to water when we are grieving and sad. The waters hold a lot of energy for us.”

Across the Great Lakes

“Water is all connected. And you can't look after the American side of the Great Lakes, if we don't look after the Canadian side. So, we have to rely on each other and trust each other.”

Ontanagon Township Park and Campground along Lake Superior, Upper Peninsula of MI

“Water is life. It is a sacred gift and trust. Water is a teacher, connector, healer, blessing, purifying and sustaining force. We love water. We thank and respect water. We ALL are water.”

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