We live and build our cities near water. Our ancestors did that before us, and they recognized water as a gift in the stories they told about the world’s beginnings.
In the Genesis story water welling up from the earth brings a garden to life: plants, animals, finally human beings. There’s no life without it. From the garden, four mighty rivers bring life to other parts of earth. (Genesis 2)They even reached New York, NY.
We bless water in our prayers,: “All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord…Every shower and dew, bless the Lord.” (Daniel, 3, 57-58) It’s honored in the rituals we perform. The baptismal fount in our churches reminds us of it. We take it in our hand and bless ourselves with it as we go in and out of church.
Water is a blessing of God. Unfortunately, some are deprived of its blessing.
In September, 2018, Pope Francis said,
“I would like to draw attention to the question of water. It is a very simple and precious element, yet access to it is, sadly, for many people difficult if not impossible. Nonetheless, “access to safe drinkable water is a basic and universal human right, since it is essential to human survival and, as such, is a condition for the exercise of other human rights. Our world owes a great social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, because they are denied the right to a life consistent with their inalienable dignity” (Laudato Si., 30″
Water invites us to reflect on our origins. The human body is mostly composed of water, and many civilizations throughout history arose near great rivers that marked their identity. In an evocative image, the beginning of the book of Genesis states that, in the beginning, the spirit of the Creator “swept over the face of the waters (1:2)”.
In considering the fundamental role of water in creation and in human development, I feel the need to give thanks to God for “Sister Water”, simple and useful for life like nothing else on our planet. Precisely for this reason, care for water sources and water basins is an urgent imperative. Today, more than ever, we need to look beyond immediate concerns (cf. Laudato Si’, 36) and beyond a purely utilitarian view of reality, “in which efficiency and productivity are entirely geared to our individual benefit” (ibid., 159). We urgently need shared projects and concrete gestures that recognize that every privatization of the natural good of water, at the expense of the human right to have access to this good, is unacceptable.”