I started to write my second gratitude post, but words did not want to come with ease, the chosen topic just did not feel right and my laptop decided to become really slow. What I was writing about was obviously not the topic for today, so I rebooted my laptop and went to take a shower. With the shower drumming over my head, I knew that today I am to write about water: the water I drink, the water I bathe in, the rain, the lakes, the oceans.
We live on a land where water is plenty and serves our smallest desires. We love our showers or baths, our spas and pools; we drink our water and when the tap does not provide the quality that we want for our heath and well-being, we buy water that will provide that for us. Born at the Black Sea shore, I’ve had a wonderful relationship with the sea and felt gratitude for it many times… and yet, until two years ago, have had the same “taking it for granted” attitude towards water that most of us, North-Americans have; I’ve lived in Toronto for 18 years so I consider myself a North-American now.
Something profound happened in my awareness two years ago: I had a glimpse in the life of people who do not have fresh water readily available to them; I was visiting Saidia, on the Mediterranean shore of Northern Morocco. This is a rural place, with very poor people, whose living quarters contrast sharply with the newly built condominium residences paid for by Europeans looking for great vacation homes at a fraction of the cost. Many locals do not have running water in their homes; their homes are huts or one/two story buildings with no water pressure. They bathe once a week, at the local hammam, their communal bath. They have to pay for their hammam visits so only the well-to-do people can afford more than one bath per week.
I was invited by one of the friends I was traveling with to go to the local hammam, the place where she used to go with her mother when she was a child. It was a powerful experience that I will not forget; I shared in the cleansing rituals of women from a different culture, women who live in a water scarce environment. This was their spa, and a place to get clean and connect with other women, in a Muslim, male-dominated society. To me nothing about it looked like a spa or felt like a spa; to me, the European/North-American used to abundant hot showers and long perfumed baths, it felt and looked dirty. When I got back to my friend’s beautiful condo, I took a shower and pondered on my experience.
Water keeps us alive and cleanses us in more ways than one, and yet we do not have time to be grateful for it and to connect with its cleansing energy.
At the hammam, I witnessed the interaction between women, watched them connect closely or fight loudly, getting their minds and emotions cleared in each other’s presence, as they shampooed their hair and lathered their bodies. This was a ritual, a cleansing ritual, all the women brought together by the power of water. They cherished the water of their hammam, respected it and did not waste it. They did not take it for granted.
Today I am expressing my gratitude for water. Water is sacred and water is alive. Water needs our love and our gratitude.
The waters of our bodies and the waters of our planet create a fluid, ever changing, but solid, constant and unbreakable connection between all of us. We are all one through the waters that we share on Earth.