Words and Water
Post Author: Amy Loving
I was first introduced to the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto when I watched a fascinating movie/documentary called What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?. Dr. Emoto studied the effects that various words and prayers had on water. He discovered that when thoughts and words were directed at ordinary water, the crystals that would form when the water was frozen changed — positive words resulted in beautifully shaped (healthy-looking) crystals, while negative words resulted in misshapen (sickly looking) crystals. Considering what he found through his experiments with water, and considering that the average person is made of around 70% water, Dr. Emoto has suggested that our words and thoughts and intentions and prayers affect us in the same way as those water crystals: our health and our peace is greatly impacted by the words and thoughts that surround us.
Recently, a group of young clergywomen and I reflected on various negative comments that we have endured in our ministries. The comments ranged from the ridiculous to the undeniably evil – and everything in between. Accusations of being uncaring and unloving hurt. There is no way around it. Rarely does it mater that the person who is saying such things to us or about us is merely projecting their own anxieties about themselves onto us — their words still sting. Broken promises can cling to us like lint on our favorite black dress. Selfish demands can weigh us down like that extra bag of groceries that we have to carry up three flights of stairs. Even the craziest of complaints can keep us up at night, stressing over how to respond to people and situations that they simply didn’t teach us about in seminary.
After sharing numerous stories of the discouraging comments that haunt us as we go about the work of answering God’s call (once again, being reminded in our sharing, that we are not alone), one of the clergywomen asked about the positive comments and experiences that we have enjoyed recently. Those comments ranged from the simple to the profound – and everything in between. It is amazing how much of a difference a simple “thank you” can make. Words of blessing and gratitude can bring much-needed healing on days when all else seems to be falling apart. Rarely do the people who share such hopeful messages realize how much their words mean — their words can soothe troubled spirits and hearts in ways that can only be understood as gifts from the Holy One. Sincere compliments can comfort us like a handmade quilt on a cold winter day. Expressions of genuine gratitude can lift us up like a free-flying kite on a breezy summer day. Even the smallest of notes or mentions of thanks for what it is that we do or who we are can give us the nudge that we need to push forward, celebrating God’s goodness and taking joy in God’s calling day by day.
After presenting a synopsis of Dr. Emoto’s work in the movie, What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?, one character says this to another: “Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? If thoughts can do that to water, imagine what our thoughts can do to us.” We have all faced harsh, hurtful words from others – and, if we’re honest, many of us have faced harsh and hurtful words from ourselves, too. It is easy to focus on the negativity that is thrown at us. It is tempting to let the criticisms and judgments sink into our souls, contaminating our spirits. It is no wonder that there is so much sickness and burnout in the church and world today! But the positive words that we share with one another can cleanse and purify. If thoughts filled with hate and spite lead us to have heartburn and panic attacks, imagine what effect positive thoughts could have on our health and well-being!
In the Sacrament of Baptism, we pray a Prayer of Thanksgiving — a blessing of love and gratitude — over the water. What if we spoke those same prayers over one another? What if we would actively seek to bless the around 70% of ourselves that is made of water? Would we be transformed? Whether or not Dr. Emoto is right in his assessment that words and thoughts can affect water, I don’t know. Whether or not Dr. Emoto is correct in thinking that – because of our water content – we are influenced by the words and thoughts that we read and hear, I don’t know. And yet, I can’t imagine that it is that far from the truth. Whenever I let the negative talk play like a broken record in my brain, it is not long before I begin to see and feel the effects: insomnia, sour stomach, elevated blood pressure… But, when I remember and embrace the positive talk – writing words of affirmation and hope on my heart and mind – I feel those effects, too: increased inner peace, joy, calm, and happiness. Words of love and gratitude can change everything — and always for the better!
Somehow, we need to remember the words that are spoken over those baptismal waters — especially in those moments when words of hate threaten to overtake us. We need to keep the words of blessing that we hear from God in our hearts. We need to recite those blessings of love and gratitude to one another. We must speak words of grace in our workplaces and homes and places of Sabbath rest. We should bind the words of affirmation that we hear on our hands and fix them on our foreheads. We should write words of hope and post them next to our computers and use them as the wallpaper on our cell phones. If we surround ourselves with messages of love and gratitude, I can only imagine the positive impact that would have on our lives, our ministries, and the world around us!
Image by: Amy Loving
Used with permission
For me, the take away bit from this piece is to surround ourselves with evidence of the kindness and goodness in the world. So often when the parishioners are angry and the attendance is down for the weekend and the hospital visits are only for dead and dying people, it is so hard to remember the joy. It does sounds like psuedoscience (although I remember it being an amusing film), but if it has us bring a little more positivity into our lives, I can be okay with that.
I think we’re debasing the importance of our words when we associate then with pseudoscience like this. Words can be hurtful or encouraging without needing the “objective” proof that they affect water – and we diminish our ability to be taken seriously when we give credence to this kind nonsense. Augustine comes to mind: if we don’t speak sense about things unbelievers know (particularly science), how do we expect them to take us seriously when we make our claims about God, incarnation, and resurrection?