As a child I ran to the water, joyfully immune to its frigidity and unconcerned with its depths. My Aunt Pammy, a brash, fast-talking woman with a passion for cheetah print and astrology – would say it’s because I’m a Cancer – a soul ruled by the moon’s energy. Of course I’d be drawn to the water, the ebb and flows of its tides inextricably linked to the gravitational pull of that heavenly body.
As I reached puberty, the flavor of my devotion transformed to one of solace and comfort. To everyone, save my mother, I was a strange child; particularly emotionally sensitive, lost in the world of the written word – my own and those that have been published – and obsessed with trying to discover who I really am so that I could live as authentically as possible. As a result of this strange concoction of characteristics, I often felt alienated and isolated from many of the people around me – save, once again, for my mother who always encouraged me to dance, and whirl and sing to the rhythm of the music that only I could hear. Of course, this lead to a lot of bullying, and in those times of loneliness and disassociation I sought the company and comfort of water.
In my teens I would find my way to some shore and sit for hours in silence, watching the water move in its special way in its own particular environment; I came to know the shape of water as only a lover would. Something about it soothed me, and only my grandfather ever knew where to find me.
By my early 20’s the relationship deepened (no pun intended) and I felt compelled to immerse myself in water for comfort. I would float on my back, the wide night sky above me as I listed to the steady beat of my heart and breath, the tickle of my hair as it slowly fanned around my head in a shocked halo. Gradually, the edges of my body would disappear so that there was only water – only me as water.
This was my centering prayer.
As I sped away from Lesvos to Turkey, I sat perched at railing of the ferry, head bent in wonder as I peered at the blackness of the early morning Aegean. The day was windy, and I marveled a how the boat’s prow sliced through the waves without my ever having felt the motion of it.
The waves. Those waves…
Suddenly, I thought about where I was coming from, where I was going and how different those waves would be if I were making this journey on a crowded, rubber dinghy. For the first time in my life, I tasted the flavor of fear on the sea air. I’d watched countless videos, read hundreds of reports of refugee boats popping or capsizing in these waters. Later in my journey, I would hear friends recount the tales of village fishermen dragging the broken, lifeless bodies of refugees from the waters. I was speeding from the perceived point of haven toward the point of departure on a living, undulating graveyard.
Rather than allowing these desperate humans – our brothers and sisters – to cross the boarders of our nations and hearts, we hire independent security companies to push them away, beating them back into submission for having the audacity to dream of a life of peace and safety. We erect barriers around these imaginary boarders and our hearts composed of concrete, razor wire, xenophobia, nationalism and corporate avarice.
As we landed in Turkey – the point of departure – I looked back at the waters we had the privileged to cross safely, now a tropical turquoise-green for the benefit of us tourists. I considered the hellish journey that so many of our brothers and sisters must take, the countless souls which died with hope in their hearts and sea water in their lungs, and I wondered…
Is this ocean of saltwater the tears of God, or of the refugees themselves…
Because they certainly are not our own.
(Please watch until the end)