Sunday, May 16, 2010

"The ones that bring us the life force"

Cat's Eye.
This object reflects a stage of evolution our own sun will experience in several billion years. When a sun-like star begin to run out of fuel, it sheds some of its outer layers while leaving behind a white-hot core.


In 2004 I began a mode of life that is still occurring, one of travel (a mode which occurs even if travel is only to the mailbox) and one in which I felt I was becoming the "experiment of my own art." Beginning that year I had the privilege to travel internationally and it was always bodies of water that most attracted me: the River Arno; the Bosporus, the Mekong. Without necessarily intending to, I returned home with a far greater appreciation of water, so much so that I could barely stand to "waste" it and for a while carried my dish water to the garden rather than letting it simply go down the drain. 

In 2007 I read the book Water Wars by Vandana Shiva. In the preface I discovered this poem, which I committed to memory and have recited aloud nearly every morning since then:

Waters, you are the ones that bring us the life force.
Help us to find nourishment,
So we may look upon great joy.
Let us share in the most delicious sap you have,
As if you are loving mothers,
Let us go straight to the house of the one,
For whom you waters give us life and give us birth.
For our well-being, let the goddesses be an aid to us,
Let the waters be for us to drink.
Let them cause well-being and health to flow over us.
Mistresses of all the things that are chosen,
Rulers over all peoples,
The waters are the ones I beg for a cure.
Waters - yield your cure as an armor for my body,
So I may look upon the sun for a long time.
Waters - carry away all of this that has gone bad in me.
Either that I have done in malicious deceit,
Or whatever lie I have sworn to,
I hear sort the waters today.
We have joined with their sap,
Oh Agni, full of moisture,
Come and flood me with splendor!

The Ancient Rig Veda Hymn, Water of Life

In the fall of 2008, when I was completing my film, Denise: Circle of Blessing I took footage of water near my home, not simply as B-roll shots (which I never ended up using anyway) but as a form of healing; my mother had died in April and a month later I began to film the last three months of Denise Thornton's life. I edited the footage into a three-minute film that I narrated with the, Water of Life.

Prayer to Water from Bill Scheffel on Vimeo.


I am now in the third day of a twenty-day trip and writing from the twenty-eighth floor of a Chicago hotel. I was invited here over a year ago to attend the wedding of a friend and former student. A little over a week ago, I decided to abandon my return ticket back to Boulder and instead fly to New Orleans, so I could witness the oil spill there, come into its proximity, enter more fully into the narrative of pain. On Monday I will arrive there (thanks to aircraft and jet fuel). On Friday, I began the writing, photographic and video journal I intend this trip to be and am sharing here in its first installment.

In a long corridor leading from the terminal to the Orange Line train stop at Midway International Airport I came upon a series of photographs of our home, the universe. My wits, though dulled from the plane flight were still sharp enough to say: Stop, take pictures of these pictures!

Lagoon Nebula
So large and bright it can me seen without a 
telescope near the constellation Sagittarius.

Butterfly Nebula
3,700 light years from home.

The seventh planet from the sun.

2006 Cassini spacecraft photograph
as it passed behind the planet.

North America

I was hoping, quite wholeheartedly actually, quite wholeheartedly, that the drala principle would descend on you and become part of you... They are longing to meet you... So why on earth do you have to create a barrier to exclude the dralas from your life? For heaven’s sake, heaven and earth, can’t we just relax a little bit. And please, shed a few tears. That will help a lot.Chögyam Trungpa

Below is a very worthwhile interview with James Cameron director of Avatar on "evoking external drala" and restoring environmental sanity. View below or on the Democracy Now website. 


  1. be safe on your trip to New Orleans. I look forward to reading seeing hearing your perspective on all that is happening and not happening there. I find I am fixating on news from the Gulf and becoming more upset each day as the oil spreads throughout the Gulf and the extent of the unknown complications spread as well. - Larry

  2. Larry - thank you. I take your wishes seriously and with me, and with pleasure. Bill