Walking After the Rain

Last Tuesday afternoon, I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my keys, and stepped out of my apartment to go check on the mail. A thunderstorm had passed through my neighborhood a few minutes before and so the ground was wet and dark and spongy with the newfound rain.

As I ambled towards the mailbox, I noticed the clean fresh smells the storm had left behind---earthy, pleasant, and sweet. My entire apartment complex seemed to have transformed too. The grass was more crisp. The air more brisk. Even the parked cars more shiny and new.

I grew amazed at this thing we call water---amazed at the innate power within this clear, flavorless, odorless liquid that swaths the Earth in a cradle of life.

And my mind traveled back in time to a history class I took in college concerning the religious symbolism of temple complexes around the world. I remembered my professor standing in front of the classroom and pointing to slides projected on the wall of Christian churches and Islamic mosques and pagan worship-sites. Despite the obvious differences in religious ideology, all of the temples we studied had one thing in common---the imagery of water.

At a Buddhist temple in Japan, for instance, visitors collect water from a nearby waterfall and take a drink in hopes of gaining wisdom and long life. Followers of Hinduism solemnly revere and even worship the sacred River Ganges. Pools of water and fountains regularly decorate the exterior grounds of Mormon temples. And water itself is a major element in Christian baptism, whether sprinkled on the forehead of an infant or encased around a believer of full immersion.

Water signifies both life and death, cleanliness and dirtiness in religions around the world. Water is seen as a universal symbol to gain access to deity.

Oftentimes when we humans discuss religion, we talk about the differences and gulfs that separate us. How unfortunate! If we only open our eyes a little more widely, then we shall see just how much we have in common.