By Erin Hallissy
I walked around the campus on a January day after a fierce storm blew through, and I
heard water everywhere. Along the arcade, loud drips echoed from downspouts, people
splashed through small puddles on walkways and car tires whooshed as drivers pulled
into parking spaces. Wind gusts released momentary showers from the pines, and swirling waters raged beneath sewer grates.
Sometimes, it seems that water can change anything. It turns dirt into mud, allows a
seed to bloom, washes clean our clothes and erodes mighty granite cliffs. In Northern
California, great bodies of water abound. We can travel to the coast to watch and listen to the waves; we can head to Lake Tahoe to enjoy the deep blue water in summer and snow in winter, or we can drive down the hill from the Caldecott Tunnel and savor the incredible panorama of San Francisco Bay and the city’s skyline as fog rolls over the Golden Gate.
We can appreciate the transformative effect of glaciers that carved Yosemite Valley, or
warily watch the muddy, roiling water in rising creeks that sometimes flood local towns.
We decided several months ago to look at water in various ways in Saint Mary’s magazine because it is at the heart of our spiritual tradition, our literary heritage and our physical history. Since then, it’s become increasingly clear how rich the topic of water is. One of the four classical Greek elements, it is vital to growth, vital to industry, vital to the environment and vital to spirituality. Without water, we could not survive — even brief periods of drought can be devastating in areas without the usually abundant supply that we are blessed with here.
Water can have a profound effect on us. I remember standing at the edge of a blue
glacier on the Icefields Parkway in Canada and hearing the insistent dripping as it slowly melted. I recall standing at Lourdes and watching pilgrims seek healing in its springs. I threw three coins in the Trevi Fountain in 1982 to ensure I would return to Rome, and I couldn’t help but cry when I stood in front of the fountain again in 2007.
Water flows through our lives; it created the landscape around us and allowed people to transform that landscape. We invite you along on water’s journey through Saint Mary’s.
Erin Hallissy, Editor