This was the reflection given by Jennifer Henry at the final station of this year’s Ecumenical Good Friday Walk.
Who lives the pain of Good Friday in our time? Communities of Pimicikamak/Cross Lake, Syria, South Sudan, Kashechewan…
Where do we hear the cries? Taste the thirst for justice? Refugees fleeing, Women sexually assaulted, Black lives ignored, Indigenous girls missing…
Where do we see the wounds? Melting permafrost, fracked earth, tailings ponds, tanker spills…
Where is the pain of Good Friday felt? Where can we touch the wounds? Everywhere…Everywhere…
Our beautiful world—the land and air and waters—is Christ’s aching body, Jesus’ wounded flesh. Violated, crucified every day. We close our eyes, our ears. We wash our hands of it. We walk by on the other side. Or, in a brutal realization, we find ourselves complicit in the wounding.
Water is the blood that flows through this wounded body, this aching earth. The rivers that connect us, parts of the body, are the veins that carry the life blood to creatures, to peoples. Water is life, interconnected, flowing, nurturing all created beings. Water is sacred bond. Dispersed light in water droplets is the rainbow, the Creator’s inter-species, inter-generational covenant with us. But water is also our vulnerability, our inequities, our risk, our danger.
When it is polluted, cut off from eco-systems, diverted, compromised, commodified, it is so quickly depletion, desertification, degradation, death. Bleeding dry…
There are women, you know, who can see what we are doing the Body. Women who are binding up the bleeding wounds. Women who are tending to the aching world–with fierce love. Women who are caretakers of the water running through the earth’s veins: Great Lakes water walker, Indigenous Elder, Josephine Mandamin; Cochabamba Bolivian water activist, Marcela Olivera, and Berta–Berta Cáceres who lost her life in her commitment to protect precious waters, waters in Honduras vulnerable from corporate damming. There are women tending to the waters, protecting the waters, caring for the wounds in the Body.
They know. She knew. Water is connectedness, relationship—to beaver and sage, to owl and otter, to trout and neighbour. It links us back to the original goodness of Creation. And watersheds, embedded in watersheds, connect us across the whole globe. Water teaches us permeability. Our watersheds literally flow through our bodies, so that what we do to that water, we do to ourselves.
On this day of separation and loss, of alienation and pain, let us confess our disconnection from this holy Body of Christ, our dislocation from whole Earth community, our disowning of our place in the Creator’s web of life. We paved and polluted paradise rather than immersing ourselves in our watersheds. We warred with God’s creatures rather than living as relatives. We violated our neighbours, original custodians of the earth and waters, rather than living in respect of First Peoples whose teachings are instructive to us all.
But do you know? We are a forgiven people. God’s spirit is free among us
Can you feel it? We who are part of the problem can be part of the solution. (see Rita Wong in Undercurrents. Gibsons, BC: Nightwood Editions, 2015).
Can you see it? Redemption is rehydration. Healing waters are regeneration.
(see Ched Myers Re-inhabiting the River of Life)
Can you hear it? The rushing waters that flow down as justice, the ever flowing fountain of living waters.
The Easter promise is not for complacency, but for collaboration.
At his baptism, Christ submerged himself in the waters, immersed himself in his watershed, as he claimed his radical ministry of transformation. We are invited to go also: go to the waters to take the equality temperature of our world; go to the waters in our lament for the violence and destruction of our earth; go to the waters for repentance, including for our sins against the world’s First Peoples; go to waters to spill our tears for those whose lives were lost protecting them; go to the waters for blessing in our work of justice and in our commitment to transformation; go to the waters for connection, for wholeness, for oneness with creation, with one another and with our wounded healer, the crucified, and yet resurrected, Body of our God.
Jennifer Henry is the Executive Director of KAIROS Canada