Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletOctober 22, 2019

Earth Concerns News

What Has Water Been Saying To Us All These Years? by Sister Mary Ellen Putnam, CSJ

I went to Niagara Falls on an Elderhostel in October. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Niagara Falls is the second largest falls on the globe next to Victoria Falls in Southern Africa. This internationally known natural resource attracts some twelve million people a year. A few hours on Interstate 90 and we can feast on this glory of creation. All this right in our own back yard!

Great Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie empty into the Niagara River, which flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario plunging to form Niagara Falls, which is 12,000 years old. The falls divide into the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and Canadian/Horseshoe Falls.

As I stood on the platform at Goat Island, only feet away from the Bridal Veil Falls, so named by its appearance, the swirl and gush of the water seemed to speak to me. AListen to my message,@ each droplet invited. I felt such a strong magnetic pull, as the water rushed by at 150,000 gallons per second, plunging 176 feet below the fall. What was the water telling me?

The Iroquois word Onguia means the Athunder of the waters.@ These Native Americans saw the falls as spiritual and powerful. They believed everything is life itself and took nothing for granted. The river and surrounding land was a source of rich hunting, fishing and food gathering for thousands of years. They respected Mother Earth and kept her clean and fresh. What did the water say to these nomadsCHopewell, Neutral, Erie and Six Nations tribes?

In 1678, the first white men stood mesmerized by the falls. They saw the river as a source of energy and means of travel. They began to rape the land and pollute the water, unaware of her beauty. What was the water trying to tell these people?

Today, a modern hydroelectric power plant produces nearly 2.5 million kilowatts of electricity. The Niagara Reservation includes the American Falls, the first state park in the nation that was created under eminent domain. Pollution from industries along the lakes and river is being addressed in the lakes that make up almost one fifth of the world=s fresh-water supply.

What has water been saying to one generation after another? Stop one little minute and ask yourself, What does the water say to me? Do I hear and listen to its message? How often do I use, abuse and take for granted this precious gift from God?

My trip to Niagara Falls has certainly changed my life. The thrill of the trip was a boat ride on the Maid of the Mist. Water roared at 681,750 gallons per second, as it plunged 165 feet to the bottom of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Mist surrounded the boat like a blanket soaking all the tourists who were wearing yellow, plastic raincoats. Just as the boat began to turn feet away from the falls the captain announced, ALadies and gentlemen, welcome to Niagara Falls.@ Wow!


(January 2006)