Where the Water Flows – Chapter 1

by Irene Iris

Chapter 1: The Water Temple

Water is everywhere.

At least, it is now. A century and a half ago, though, the world was suffering through a tremendous shortage of drinking water, while most of the available water was mistreated and wasted. The inexorable water crisis, “day zero”, and the following water wars of the early-2100s made people rethink and revalue water. This is when a new religion was born.

In one of the hotbeds of this religion, a temple was built. It was erected amidst a gargantuan ice field of one of the few glaciers still remaining. Its location was kept secret but sought by many. Only the most devout, most scientifically privy, and most desperate individuals found their way here.

The structure was anchored in ice and put on stabilization gravity pontoons. The pontoons would allow the edifice to move with the cracky glacial mass yet stay in one piece.

The temple was originally set high in the mountains where the glacier took its root. In the long decades, it has moved all so dramatically to the glacier’s very edge. As the glacier advanced and melted into the lake, the temple inevitably approached the end of its days.

The prophecy says, if this temple stands until the 2200th New Year, humankind will have redeemed its sins to be forgiven by the planet. Not all people believe in the religious prophecies, yet they do believe in the science of glacial movement accelerated by global warming – the plague of the previous century humans are still trying to manage. How well – this temple will show on the first day of the New Year. If global warming has been actually slowed down to a desired safe rate, the temple will stand as a proud testimony to this major achievement. If not, it will collapse into the meltwater lake down beneath, along with anyone who will have come here for the New Year’s Mass.

Achiyaku, the local high priestess, is standing on the open terrace that encircles the temple like a life buoy ring and is looking down at the breathtaking crevice in the ice. She cannot but wonder if it has actually grown bigger since yesterday or it’s just her imagination. This slowly-peeling vertical slab of gradient-colored ice is the last thing that falls into the lake before her temple.

Either it is the bitey mountain air that penetrates her turquoise robe made of lotus silk, or the vision of the glacier that gives her chills, but Achiyaku prefers to come back inside – to the place where water dwells in its liquid, most sacred form.

In this temple, water runs through all the matter of things. It runs around the entire premise, enveloping and connecting everything and everyone. In some instances, it is untouchable inside transparent tubes, while in others it can be touched and even walked on.

Even the doors to the temple are made of water. When people step over the sacred threshold, they come through a symbolic purification barrier – the wall of cold, tiny-fraction water vapor cascading down from the frame atop the entrance gate. Cleansing from sins. Purgatory divider.

Once cleansed, the rare, privileged visitors enter a large hall with an oculus on the rooftop. The oculus allows the sunlight to pour into the inner space and descend right onto the main altar.

The altar is performed in the shape of a round fountain about three meters in diameter. Its translucent hemispherical glass cup has a protruding stand in the center. Water is slowly oozing up and silently out of this pipe that ends in a nozzle with curved edges carefully cradling a multicolor spherical gemstone. It slowly rotates on the cushion of moving water. Twenty centimeters in diameter and heavy with its impressive might, the sodalite sphere rotates fluidly on the water pillow beneath it. The gem bears an immediate and striking resemblance to something familiar to every earthling. The Earth. The central deity in the global religion. Mother Nature. Gaia. The Goddess. The blue-green world.

The sun is at its zenith. The water chalice is lit.

Achiyaku knows it is her time to enter the scene and preach to the ones who have found a way to her temple and want to find a way into a sustainable future. Many who come, stay and become monks. 

The priestess’s name of ancient Quechua origin means “сlearluminous water”. Achiyaku’s mission here on Earth is important – she is an intermediary between people and the planet in the critical century, decade, and the very year that would determine whether the world is going to end or start anew.

The priestess is going to recite from the modern Bible – the Book of Water, extracts from Water Genesis, First Apocalypse, and Regeneration. She comes to the altar, submerges her fingers in the holy altar water, closes her eyes, and preaches:

Water is everywhere. Forever and ever. Since the dawn of time. A universal solvent for stardust. Life dawned in water. Life came from water. And water was life. Water was in all life. It was in every living cell. Every living organism needed water. Forever and ever. And the water was clean, and the water was plenty. […] Then came the human, using and abusing water. Water sustained the human yet the human did not sustain water. Water became filthy, as filthy as the human. Then came big water. In floods, rising seas, tsunamis, hurricanes, and pouring rains the water spoke. And then in droughts, famines, and dust storms it was silent. It taught humans the lesson – the lesson of water, the lesson of life. Water spoke, and the human finally heard. […] And the human became water, one with water, respecting water. The human learned to talk to Earth through water… Forever and ever.

Following the priestess’s voice, people stand in the circle around the altar chalice, close their eyes, and do a collective prayer. Then, each one comes, dips a small cup into the pool and drinks from it. The act of communion. Aside from the symbolic meaning, it practically helps keep the level of the water down, never allowing it to pour over the edge. Yet, Achiyaku knows tomorrow they will all witness something extraordinary, as no one will be allowed to drink from the cup of life…

Tomorrow is an important day – what common people call the New Year and what Achiyaku calls the Judgment Day.

Copyright ©️ 2024 Iryna Dihtiarova-Deslypper.  All rights reserved.

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