Rain falls upon the surface of the earth, and pulled by gravity each drop begins to flow downhill. Drop merges with drop, flowing together, into a trickle, a streamlet, a creek, a mighty river, flowing onward.
Some of the water seeps down into the earth itself, as groundwater, or deep aquifers, where it will stay for days, years, or even millennia until it's pulled up again by tree roots, wells, springs, and geysers, rejoining the dance, the flowing, flowing, flowing.
The water flows on until it collects in ponds, lakes, seas, and vast oceans. And all the while the sun's rays warm the water, calling it back into vapor, so light that it can rise, up, up, up, each molecule moving on its own again, rising into the higher atmosphere, buoyant and swirling, up to where the air grows cool, and, the water vapor slows and cools, and begins to turn again, back to droplets.
Droplets find droplets and join together again and again, forming clouds, growing heavier and heavier. Until at last the weight of them pulls them down again, and rain falls on the surface of the earth again. Everywhere on earth at every moment is somewhere in this cycle, cycles upon cycles, falling, flowing, sinking, transforming, rising, again, and again, and again.
(We recommend some form of movement here, such as people making a wave, section by section, with hands/arms making the motion of rain falling, rivers flowing, water sinking, and vapors rising and repeating to show the never-ending cycle.)
Our planet has all the water it will ever have and has ever had; this water cycle has been spiraling around and around for more than 4 and a half billion years.
This means that the water we gather in our annual ritual comes from all over the world and also from across all time on Earth.
The water we gather today has traveled through the root systems of trees long since returned to soil, burst from geysers that ceased spraying millennia ago, and flowed down rivers that have changed course entirely over billions of years.
This morning we also remember that the water cycle doesn’t only involve rivers and plants and clouds, but also involves creatures. The water cycles through us, too, coming in and out of our bodies in many different ways.
That means that the molecules in the water you gathered from (name a body of water local to you) could have been in the tears of joy and sorrow cried by the first person who ever felt love... or that s water from our church sink contains within it molecules that were once in the best chicken soup someone ever ate, or in the sweat of the people who built our church and our town, or in the blood of the mothers that birthed our grandmothers’ grandmothers’ grandmothers, or even… in dinosaur pee.
What and when and where else do you imagine this water has been? (Collect responses from the congregation.)
As we gather the waters of community this morning, let us remember that they connect us to everything that has ever been, and everything that will ever be. That is the power of the water we share.