Reflections on Sea Changes

Thoughts on transformation
by Lauralee Alben

Water blessings


Ceremony is essential. It summons us into sacred space and offers us the time to design insightful beginnings and endings. This newborn year is just a few months old, but for many of us, its potential is compromised by days consumed with the driving force of our over-committed lives. Ceremony gives us a chance to pause, to reflect, and to honor what is meaningful to us. It brings us into relationship, often in unpredictable ways.

Invoking connection
Since 2009, we have been holding water ceremonies to open and close our Sea Change Design workshops. In these ceremonies, we presence the spiritual aspect of our being, the source of our ability to connect, create, care, and choose.

We relate deeply with each other, nature, the divine, and time in order to prepare ourselves for deeply immersing in the design of ourselves or our work. Often the profound informs the practical.

Participants are invited to bring water from their local streams, lakes, or coastal areas to contribute to a confluence of fresh and salt waters, some from the Gulf, Pacific, and Atlantic, others from sacred sites like Lourdes and Yucatan cenotes, still others from unnamed, barely trickling streams running through backwoods. I love to hear the water sources recited, like Buckeye Falls, Saugatuck River, Loch Lomond Reservoir. One by one these new offerings are poured into the communal bowl holding water reserved from previous ceremonies. Words of gratitude, requests, or blessings imprint the water and us. At the closing, each person takes some water back home. I bring the rest to a water body nearby.

Giving back
In January last year, we brought a water ceremony to a close. Early the next morning, I made my way onto the beach below the great Monterey Cypress on Westcliff Drive in Santa Cruz. At water’s edge, prongs of land reached out to the bay providing channels for the waves to rush between towards the shore. The sun’s rays streamed through the cloud cover all across the horizon.

I stood rapt, holding my daypack close in my arms. Inside it, I felt the shape of my grandmother’s large blue mason jar filled with our ceremonial water embedded with the memory of our precious readings, stories, poems, prayers, and songs. They seemed almost audible to me.

Cautiously, I walked out onto a rock outcropping, intending to pour our water into the sea over the far edge. But I slippedĀ on the seaweed, fearing as I fell that the jar would break. I heard it shatter as I landed. Quickly, I opened the pack and carefully poured the precious water into a tide pool, holding back the shards. I gave this blessing, “Water, please accept our humble offering. Even though we humans are broken, we bring you beauty. Thank you for our lives. And for all Life.”

I sat there for a good long while, watching the wind ripple the water in the rock bowl, a fitting twin to our ceremonial glass bowl. In the workshop, that same water moved with our breath and gave us back our own reflections. There, at the ocean’s edge, it was the sky that danced on its surface, while little crabs scurried around anemones and sea stars below.

Shattering illusions
As I softly sang to the ocean, it surged over the rocks, nearly reaching the tide pool. I knew with the incoming tide, the next waves would claim our offering and it would ripple out to help heal the waters all over our hurting earth.

Still curious, I wondered why I had fallen so unceremoniously. An excitement suddenly filled me. I couldn’t tell if it came from the ocean, our water offering, or my own heart. And then Water whispered, “Here is my gift in return for yours. I broke your glass jar to shatter the illusion that you humans are separate from me. We are, in fact, one and the same.”

Ceremonies surface universal truths that have the potential to transform the very core of our human-centric worldview. This seems one unifying truth worth relating to.

What’s possible when we humans make this essential shift in consciousness? Imagine if we take this knowing into how we design solutions to our global water crisis, climate change, food security, human rights… Water runs through everything.

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