Water, Water

water water a lament for flint mi

One of the first songs I learned in Ms. Stroud’s high school chorus was Mayim, Mayim—Water, Water.

It is a Jewish children’s song and folk dance that draws its lyrics from Isaiah 12:3.:

Ushavtem mayim b’sason
mimainei hayeshua
Hey, hey, mayim, mayim…b’sason

With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation.
Hey, hey, water, water…with joy

The lilting, mysterious tune lured me, as did the challenge of a language different than my own. I let the Hebrew words flow over my tongue. As I relished the taste of each phrase I imagined what thirst they might have quenched for a once wilderness-wandering people. It did not take long to learn Mayim, Mayim by heart. 

I can sing it even today, and I have been. Except my hums and whispered solos have not been in celebration. They have not even been on purpose. No, the recent events in Flint, Michigan brought Mayim, Mayim to me in deep waves of lament and prayer.

water water

Coping with such far-reaching travesties does not come easy to my conscious mind. I want to ignore the trouble. I want to ignore the guilty relief of “at least it did not happen to me.

Yeah, I just went there. The majority of the American public just went there. We are bystanders wondering what we should do or if we should do anything or maybe this will just work itself out—all the while bobbing in shallow, safe, and potable water.

Hey, hey, mayim, mayim… with joy…with joy…

It seems my body holds memories and a rushing River that will not let me ignore Flint, Michigan. There are no stipulations in the song and its promise. It says YOU will draw water with joy.

Can this happen in Flint? Are there no YOUs in Flint? Who has forgotten that there are YOUs in Flint?

YOU children

YOU laborers and drifters

YOU creatures

YOU beings beloved of God

I pray that the rhythm of Mayim, Mayim will capsize the schemes of injustice. I pray the rain of God’s creative transformation will fall on the polluted watershed of the Flint community AND their policy makers. I pray that "justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5:24).

So that the greed of a few will not keep the masses in want of water.

Mayim, mayim…with joy.


I invite you to leave a prayer or word of goodwill for Flint, MI and all who suffer water-related violence in the comments below. Please treat this thread as a community prayer space.

Be at home.

What is your hope? What is your heartbreak?