Issue 7 Editorial

Whether it be rivers, creeks, dams, bays or oceans, waterways are often defining features in one’s life story. Remember the childhood joys of splashing each other in the swimming hole or the shallows of the beach? Or hosing each other on hot summer days and delighting in the hose snaking around unpredictably drenching
the unsuspecting? And on rainy days jumping in puddles or shuffling along a gutter or drain with or without shoes? Who has not been invigorated by surging surf, the simplicity of a fishing trip or the magnificence of sunset or moonrise over the ocean?

In The Sacred Balance David Suzuki reflects:
Humans are landlubbers on this watery planet, island people marooned on dry land surrounded by
and dependent on an alien element, an old home we left long ages ago and yet carry still within us(p. 53).

Tim Winton often describes Australians as ‘veranda people’, drawn to the edges of the land, sitting reflectively, looking out at the ocean. It is clear that the drawing power of waterways meets more than simple physical thirst or utilitarian purposes. We hear of water as an image of our deep unconscious and we experience it firing the imagination, feeding the spirit and challenging us to go beyond any sense of alienation to an understanding of integral connectedness.

Land creatures we may be, but the water at which we gaze from our veranda is indeed the source, not only of our food and physical well being, but a wellspring of our creativity, our art, music, dance and ritual celebrations.

Does this deeply spiritual connection explain something of the depth of despair that so many Australians currently feel at the lack of water? This is not to minimise the feeling of sheer helplessness as crops fail, stock die and family economies and businesses collapse, rather it highlights the reality that not only our bodies but indeed our whole selves can die of thirst.

Attentiveness to a wholistic immersion in and dependence on water will lead to new spiritual practices. We may soon tire of bucketing water from the shower to sustain our European style gardens, but we will not tire of treasuring this old home that we carry within us and understanding that despite being ‘landlubbers’ we are one with the water that is constantly on the move, morphing in and out of life.

At the same time we may, in all humility, accept Earth’s chastening ways as attention is drawn toour ignorance, extravagance or simple misunderstanding in cultivating lifestyles that cannot be sustained by the rhythms of
the water cycle. These rhythms of course do not function in human time – they function in Earth time.

In a land where everyone is talking fresh water, mostly  because there is too little but sometimes because there is too much, the story of our rivers is very instructive. In the feature article of this edition, Geoff Lacey writes of the lower Yarra river and illustrates so well that, as he says in the introduction to his book of the same title: ‘the mystery of nature and our human place in it can best be explored through a deeper familiarity with the local and particular’. Geoff’s love of the Yarra is tangible as he shares with us the story of its shaping of the land, the diverse biotic community to which it gives life and inspires  the artistry of humans.

From another perspective, Glenn and Anne Abblitt share their love of a river that for the most past flows underground and in so doing evokes a deep sense of mystery as it too shapes the land, gives life to a diverse
biotic community and inspires the artistry of humans.

David Mitchell and John Avard each have different considerations about our drought-ridden land. Then there is the continuing good news about the very successful efforts of schools to develop sustainable sensitivities amongsttheir students, and Caroline Smith writes of the training offered to student teachers in this regard.
Several opinion pieces invite your response in the next Readers Forum, especially Alan Baker’s contribution
to the nuclear debate. Earth Link shares the first of its principles of spirituality and lighter moments are scattered throughout to illustrate the attentiveness of authors to the song of their piece of Earth.

Finally we offer heartfelt congratulations to the Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES) who are celebrating 25 years of very effective and creative community education and development. Founding member Eric Bottomley is our Visionary and the Centre shares the Celebration of Place segment with Savernake Station. Happy reading.