Finding Harmony with the Fox River

by Gary SwickGary Swick

McHenry County Green Drinks recently invited Friends of the Fox River to talk about paddling the Fox River. We decided that our Executive Director Gary Mechanic would talk about the physical aspects of paddling, and I would offer a spiritual perspective.

I’m a spiritual guy, but I’m also a science guy. I seek evidence as explanations. Consequently, I do not follow a particular faith. I do however, admire, respect, and somewhat follow the teachings of our region’s native peoples. I do believe that all things are connected, and that Gaia (in Greek mythology, Gaia is the personification of the Earth … Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life: the primal Mother Earth goddess) is an organism. The earth is alive with the miracles of biology, chemistry, and physics being driven by the sun with the spirit of fire and water. I have seen evidence of this through water blessings and sacred fire ceremonies. I have personally witnessed the spiritual energy being displayed there.

Integration: Being One With Water

“Harmony with land is like harmony with a friend; you cannot cherish his right hand and chop off his left. That is to say, you cannot love game and hate predators… The land is one organism.” Aldo Leopold

What I assembled for the Green Drinks presentation was a plea to the audience to be a personal “friend” to the Fox River. I asked the audience if they’d thanked the Fox River for accepting our discharges of storm water, and if they have asked forgiveness for their daily toilet contributions. I then offered a Hawaiian prayer. It was kind of a coincidence as I was departing the next day for the “Big Island”.

Here is the Ho’oponopono prayer:

water dropWater, I am sorry,
Water, Please forgive me,
Water, Thank you,
Water, I Love you.

We all chanted it to a bowl of water from the Fox River. I explained that this prayer allows one the opportunity to make right any wrong actions, negative thoughts, or negative energy that one has created. This prayer is received by water and the water reflects back peace and harmony. I went on to talk about the spiritual recreation that comes on paddle trips. We also joked about the marital challenge that canoeing provides.

Connecting Flight

The next day, I was at the airport in the boarding line. I engaged in a conversation with Paul from Duluth. I learned that Paul is a healer using “Jin Shin Jyutsu” techniques. Paul taught me some really cool stuff about assisting ourselves in letting our body work its path to healing and harmony. Then canoeing came up. He also had metaphors about healing and canoeing.

As we were about to board the plane and say so long, he brought up a healing center in Hawaii. The woman in front of me apologized for eavesdropping, asked him a question and what does he recite? The very same prayer that I lead the audience in the previous night. Paul explained that when we are saying I love you to the land and waters, that we are saying I love you to ourselves, and we are being healed and helped toward harmony.

Changing Flows, Healing Currents

So what? Well the new presentation that I delivered in Crystal Lake changed me and my relationship with the Fox River. I have a slightly new perspective on gratitude, healing and harmony.

Friends of the Fox River is also in a transition. We are expanding our river cleanups into community celebrations with our new “Love Our River Day” events. We’ve always worked to help the river. Now we are moving beyond superficial healing toward a culture of harmony by celebrating our relationship heart riverwith our river as a community.

Celebrate with us at our first “Love Our River Day” at the Gail Borden Library in Elgin on Saturday, May 12th. Pre-registration on our website helps us plan, and gets you a free lunch if you help cleanup or collect data. Enjoy a riverside picnic and celebration with live music, educational activities, a water blessing, some surprises, prizes, awards and fun for all ages.

Rivers bring oxygen, water, and the nutrients that sustain us, and carry away toxins, the same way our blood keeps us alive. Each of us are walking miracles, just like rivers are flowing miracles.

Please join with us in our efforts to change our culture to one of harmony with the river, as the Fox Valley’s residents who lived 500 years ago did, a time when we appreciated the gifts of our river and demonstrated that in ceremony.

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