Have You Hugged Your River Lately?

Alas, I know I promised an article about the nature of the “Pagan community” and my (and our Grove’s) role in it, but I’m not feeling up to it right now. Maybe I went and picked a topic that was way too big and ambiguous – which would be ironic, given that that’s going to be a major point in said article! I’ll aim to have that one posted here next week. In the meantime, with spring nearly here and my thoughts turning to being outside and visiting Ana, I’ll repost this article that I wrote absolutely ages ago for the Seeker Journal. Enjoy!

When I was a child growing up in Sumpter Township, I was lucky enough to live a mile away from the entrance to the Lower Huron Metropark. This put me within easy biking distance of the Huron River. On many a summer day, I would go out and spend time sitting by the river, just watching it flow quietly by.

I ended up going to the University of Michigan, which felt like it was far away from my childhood home. But it wasn’t, because that same Huron River went through the Arboretum, just off of campus. Any time when I was feeling cut off from my past, I could go sit on one of the huge rocks by the river’s edge and see the water flowing by, on its way to the Metropark, and my home.

I’ve lived in several different houses and apartments since I graduated, and every one has been within a mile of the Huron. At one house, I had to walk over a bridge crossing the river in order to get to the laundromat and wash my clothes. There were a few times when I thought, if I could just use a washboard here, I could save myself some walking! The apartment I live in now is just a few hundred yards from the banks of the river in Ypsilanti, and I often walk out to visit.

Back in 1995, I attended a Shining Lakes Grove ritual for the first time. I knew next to nothing about the group, and the ritual structure was not what I was used to. I didn’t think that I had much in common with them! Fortunately, I did stick around and ask questions, and I found out that one of the deities worshipped by the group was Ana, the goddess of the Huron River. Wow! After all this time, I had finally found other people who felt the same way I did. Since then, I’ve been finding new ways to develop my relationship with the Huron, from doing environmental work for the local watershed council, to traveling to the river’s source and meditating, to simply tapping my forehead whenever I drive over the river, my own way of saying hello to Ana.

I know that not everyone who reads this lives in the Huron’s watershed, but you probably have some river or lake nearby. If you don’t already do so, I recommend that you get out there and spend some quality time with it. Clean up the litter, if there is any, or splash around on a summer day, or just sit quietly and commune. Remember that without water, there can be no life.

(If you’d like to contact the Huron River Watershed Council, you can reach them at 734-761-5123 or lrubin@hrwc.org . If you want to find out what watershed you live in, contact your local EPA office, or visit http://www.epa.gov/surf/ )

Rev. Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF

P.S. – Since I wrote this article, the HRWC had gotten itself a Web site: http://www.hrwc.org/ . The EPA site has a new URL, but the old URL up there will point you to it.

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