Water: Will Prayer Fix the Gusher?

Water: Will Prayer Fix the Gusher?

An interesting debate erupted this week with the statement by Janeane Garofalo about using prayer to fix the gusher. She said calling for prayer as a solution to the Gulf of Mexico was anti-intellectual. Rather than a rant on her, for as I understand it, she meant if prayer were our only approach – which I agree makes sense – I want to explore the question: Can Prayer Heal the Gulf?

Grandmother comes through Water, Color. Video Still. 2005.

This question about technology and science vs. prayer is one raising an interesting, albeit, tired debate. Man vs. Nature is not a new debate, as Naomi Klein so rightly points out in the Guardian this month, this debate goes way back to the 1600’s when a world which had solved some scientific questions believed it had the scientific solution to ALL questions. In a swing from total belief in ‘Gods’ to one of ‘Machine as God,’ our world lurched along, and frankly, did pretty well for itself. Let’s be clear, many ‘advances’ were made.

Let’s also be clear that many, many advances envisioned by science have not come to fruition. When I hear that it could now be years before the gusher in the Gulf is fixed, we see, sadly, perhaps angrily, that we do not, in fact, have this whole nature thing sealed up.

To not recognize this very human reality, we do ourselves disservice. Rather than a machine, we now see, Mother Nature is more powerful than a locomotive, and it will take a Superman or woman to put the cap back on the belly of the earth. Punto. End of story.

That sort of scientific humility may be like electing a black president – it just might bring out a whole heck of crazy.

As an indigenous person, this debate is a hark back to the very theory that made it possible for generations and generations of non-native people to treat horribly native people who believed in Nature, and respected the ‘laws,’ the ‘stories’ that were passed down, guided as they were by a deep belief about our role as humans on this earth.

I fear this old debate is unintentionally brought on if we focus on whether prayer or technology wins the prize, because, as far as it looks right now, the human race is losing.

As a person who believes in the Great Spirit, faced before a problem I don’t know how to solve, I pray. I pray, and have prayed, for the Gulf. It’s literally, at this moment in my life, all I have to give.

Sitting here today considering the now spreading impact of this oil spill, I started thinking back to how Water became the focus of my environmental consciousness.

In 2005, I attended a conference in Baja California. I had the honor of meeting members of the Kumeyaay and Pai Pai tribes. I felt an instant kinship, for there were many recognizable similarities in the ways that matter most, that made me recognize how, at one time, their coastal tribal communities had had contact, interaction, convivir – perhaps, even ceremonies together. I felt honored as the women enveloped me in that kinship, sharing with me their lives, their histories and stories.

What became painfully clear quickly, as they spoke with me about their struggle for the water in their community, is that we all got a big problem ahead. What I heard sunk inside me to rise up as a song entitled Unacceptable. Long facing discriminatory policies and land grabs by the Mexican government, disputes that made their communities in Mexico often look like a U.S. Indian reservation, equally shuttled between here and there when the resources underneath required a relocation. The drill is known, the history painfully rote, and identical in so many parts of the world where indigenous people suffer a similar fate every day, even today in the present.

The women told how their water sources had become contaminated with toxins, the affects already seen in the youngest generation. They used bottled water, when they could, but in strong, clear voices, these women were speaking up no longer for themselves, but for their children, their grandchildren, and those to come who would suffer the worst environmental impacts. These warrior women had fought back with every resource in their power, and yet, the usual paperwork tripped up yet another community response to an environmental threat, with permits and ‘yes’ reserved most for those causing the impacts in the first place.

With no end in sight, these people of such strength, such courage, spoke what no one wants to hear. They spoke about the end. For without water, there is no life.

Finally, Science and Faith meet here, on Water.

As we closed the ceremony, burning the sage that connected a region north with a region south in deep millennial ways, I knew their story would not be lost with me.

I kept in touch by email but there was never enough that I could do. I just knew Water is what would lead me forward.

Prayer became my way ahead. I was not alone, not by a long shot.

As measure of this truth, several years ago, while BP drafted yet another plan with a dead scientist as its lead contact, indigenous people and those people who felt close to Mother Nature and believed too in the power of Water, took a silent but deeply powerful stand.

This stand came, like all do, as one among many all around the globe, felt at the same time, like a tide moving without borders, bringing ideas swirling at once to many people, cultures and nations.

When Masaru Emoto published “Messages from Water,” the message in the molecules seemed evidence of this place where Science and Faith may indeed meet.

His book and the water molecule photos showed the impact of both positive and negative words, sounds, even thoughts, on Water. Extrapolating from the smallest of life’s elements, the connection to two important facts started a movement. Humans, and the Earth are in their majority made up of Water. If thoughts, feelings and words can impact a molecule of Water, what will millions in prayer for the Gulf Waters bring?

Will the Gulf of Mexico bring us a world-wide transformation as Science and Faith come together as partners rather than hormonal teenagers in a stallion fight?

In 2007, people around the world gathered vials of water – from any water source they wanted – and the vials poured in. Our community and friends joined the effort and it was a beautiful, frankly mystical, experience just contributing a few laboratory vials of Water. Our community was joined by communities ALL over the world.

Water samples were sent from around the globe, carried by representatives from all nations of the world, brought right into the heart of Mexico City, as center stage in a ceremony called by elders, designed to bring women front and center of the circle into which water was poured with prayers and blessings that went into each drop of water poured with hopes of healing our Earth’s Waters.

As we go about our intellectual debate about prayer over planning, please know, prayers have already been said for water, and perhaps have already helped hold back the worst effects, Water working with us, holding hope that the intellectuals will come up with a solution.

When I hear of the eternal debate that has shaped relations on this earth for at least the last 500 years – will technology roll right over Mother Nature, or is there a line we should not cross? – I find myself wondering, will the indigenous belief in Nature – that exists across all races, nations, borders – be degraded once again? 500 years is a long test trial.

In the meantime, if the premise of the Messages from Water book moves you scientifically, consider this – if water molecules can be affected positively and negatively by the positive or negative thoughts, and we and our earth are majority water, the odds are as least as much in favor of prayer as science.

In fact, wouldn’t be pretty amazing to learn that these two were never at odds in the first place?

Perhaps it will take Water to teach us intellectual beings the lesson, or perhaps we can put an end to the debate and saddle up in the ways that one can – through prayer or technology – to ‘make this right.’

Masaru Emoto, in his website statement regarding the Gulf Oil spill, said what he has learned from his work is that ‘Water is a mirror of our mind.’ Enough said.