Water Offering

In her book, My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging, Rachel Naomi Remen shares about a beautiful daily Tibetan ritual.

Buddhist water bowlsYou take a small bowl and slowly fill it to the brim with water. Remen says:

“As the bowl fills, you reflect on the particulars of your life, whatever they are. The people with whom you share your time, your state of health, whatever problems you face, what skills and strengths you have, your disappointments and successes, your worries, your personal gifts, your personal limitations, your home, all your possessions, your losses, your history as a human being. As the bowl fills, you receive your life openheartedly and unconditionally as your portion.”

Can you sense something Ignatian already? In this first part of the ritual there’s a non-judgemental acceptance and even detachment that comes, placing all these things metaphorically in the bowl. All this, Remen says, is your “portion”. It reminds me of the words in Ignatius’ Suscipe prayer, “all that I have and hold,” including our liberty, memory, understanding, and will.

water bowl at windowAfter you fill the bowl to the brim you carefully carry it, without spilling any water, to a special place in your home and as you place it there you dedicate the contents to love and service that day. And why not dedicate it to God as well? Returning to Ignatius’ prayer we see the contents as gift from God, things that help us in our path to God. “To you, O Lord, I return it,” the prayer continues.

The water represents everything that you call your own and while many of those things can seem dark and cloudy, the clarity of life-giving water in the bowl reminds us that those things are hallowed before God and can be transformed into the tools of love and service. At the close of the day you empty the bowl outside into the earth ready to be filled again the next morning.

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Music by Kevin MacLeod

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