Elizabeth Alker loves to feel the cold water as she slides into it from the river bank or steps nervously from the lake side. She is a Christian, used to the euphoric feeling that worship also brings her, and swimming in the open gives her a similar, immersive sensation - as soon as she leaves the water she immediately craves it again.
She sets outs to find out why so many people have that same craving, discovering tranquility and spirituality in the icy water. From there she moves on to consider the spiritual nature of water itself.
Right across the world’s faiths water represents life, fertility, healing and purity. It has been used in rituals for thousands of years, rivers are sacred, baptisms with water symbolises the introduction of children to their faith
Elizabeth explores why water is so important in the lives of believers, wild swimmers and the millions around the world whose spiritual thirst is quenched by its power.
She goes swimming with Helen Pidd of The Guardian newspaper who first introduced her to swimming outdoors, and Scottish singer Julie Fowlis who explains how the stories and myths surrounding water make their way into Gaelic music.
Professor Bron Taylor, author of ‘Dark Green Religion’ discusses the place of water in organised religion - as well as his own connection with the ocean having speak years as a coast guard.
Izumi Hasegawa describes the place of water in Shinto, and Ruth Fitzmaurice, author of ‘I Found My Tribe’, describes how swimming in the ocean helped her profoundly through the illness and death of her beloved husband Simon.
Why is water so important in the lives of believers, wild swimmers and the millions around the world whose spiritual thirst is quenched by its power.
Producer - Geoff Bird
Presenter - Elizabeth Alker
(Picture credit: Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images, June 2020)