Drought, Storms, and the Waters that Carry & Sustain Us

Drought, Storms, and the Waters that Carry & Sustain Us

speaker: ,

The water communion has been a quintessential part of the Unitarian Universalist living tradition for 40 years. It has celebrated interconnection, empowerment, and the awesome force of water to generate and sustain life.  But we do not control water; too much or too little also has the power to destroy our hopes, our lives, and our communities.  This Sunday we will acknowledge the power water has over our lives, and honor it as a symbol of scarcity, change, and abundance.

To participate in this ceremony, you’ll need an empty bowl and a glass/cup/bottle full of water nearby.


The origins of the song are murky, but it’s primarily credited to Huddie Ledbetter, “Lead Belly” (1888 –1949) who was an African American folk and blues musician born in Louisiana, noted for his strong vocals, virtuosity on the twelve-string guitar, and the folk standards he introduced.  Moria Smiley arranged an amazing rendition of this song that involves body percussion.

The Akwesasne Women singers were formed in 1999 by four women who were driven by the need to protect and preserve the Kanienkeha ka (Mohawk Language), traditional  customs and stories, as well as the oral traditions that are passed down from grandmother to grand-daughter.  It was founded on the principle that songs are the easiest way to pass on the language and culture to future generations.  In the writing of their songs, they work with Elders and fluent speakers from Akwesasne to ensure the correct usage and spelling of words as they share their own messages that they believe are important for the Mohawk people to know and remember. 

Wade in the Water is an African American jubilee song, a spiritual—in reference to a genre of music "created and first sung by African Americans who were enslaved. Because many people who were enslaved knew the secret meanings of these songs, they could be used to signal many things. One of the most significant songs of this nature in history was Wade in the Water.  For example, Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade in the Water” to tell escaping slaves to get off the trail and into the water to make sure the dogs slavecatchers used couldn’t sniff out their trail. People walking through water did not leave a scent trail that dogs could follow. Water was protection and singing so powerful for communicating danger. Without this song many people who were enslaved would have been caught on their way to reaching a safer place or to their destination of freedom. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlPjUvOxAf0; Turn the World Around, Harry Belafonte 

The women of the Vanuatu Archipelago in the South Pacific tell their stories through a collection of different rhythmic patterns performed waist-deep in the water with splashing, scooping, slapping, skimming, and swirling movements.