Prayer for the Otakaro-Avon River
We gather on the bank to pray for this river
that was here long before us,
and will continue to flow
long after we have gone.
Let us give thanks
for the snow-fed aquifers,
and the peaceful springs
that birth and sustain her life
every day, every moment;
and for the little streams and creeks
that make her stronger
as she flows through our city
towards the sea.
We celebrate the life that is within her –
We rejoice in the beautiful birds
that grace her waters,
that she supports –
the waterfowl and
their songs that are heard
day and night
along her reaches.
We give thanks
for the sustenance she has provided
so generously, constantly
for the people of this place
ever since the first ones came here,
food for body, mind and soul
for generation after generation.
Yet our gratitude and joy
are coloured with sorrow
our spirits are troubled
as we can see with our own eyes
how polluted she has become,
how much she suffers.
We know that she is burdened
by what we have asked her to carry,
and she has lost much of her sparkle
her vitality, her spirit…
Her waters are polluted with the wastes
of the city, chemicals, effluent,
and a tide of human refuse,
debris from a careless throwaway society.
O Creator, forgive our lack of respect
our failure to love and cherish
this beautiful, life-giving river.
We have built a city around her
and asked her to do things
we should never have asked,
we have treated her like a drain,
a convenience, a waste disposable unit
for all the things we don’t want.
We know that it will take
a transformed city
to heal and restore her
to fullness of life.
Transform our hearts and minds,
change us deeply so that we begin
to take responsibility
for our abusive behaviour.
Holy Spirit, count us in,
give us the strength and wisdom,
the aroha and grace
to return the love and life
we have so freely been given.
As she has blessed
may this spirited river
by all who live here.
— New Brighton 2014
From The In-Between Land: Psalms, Poems and Haiku by Mark Gibson (2015)