Worshipping at the Sacred Well

I really, really love water.

A good supply of fresh water is what anyone would want if stranded on a desert island. I would put water, and my ever-present SIGG bottle, at the very top of my list for purely emotional reasons.

dsc01624I know that the constant need to carry a flask of H2O is an addiction of my entire generation, but I know I only thrive when I’m secure if I have a source of hydration at my fingertips. At this point, I am pretty certain it’s not indicative of any physical malady. It’s just one of my social crutches – kind of like how I can only speak coherently at a meeting if I have a pen in my hand.

Both because I fill my bottle so often and because the filter is a little slow, I tend to spend a lot of time standing in front of our fancy new refrigerator. When my sister remarked upon how long it took to fill glass when she was visiting on Thanksgiving I told her I usually use the time to consider my posture and say a few Hail Marys.

She looked at me like I was insane (I know I’ve mentioned plenty of time that prayers to the BVM have not generally been part of my repertoire) and declared that she’d spend the time doing calf raises.

In the three months since the whole family gathered here for turkey and feasting I have logged in a lot more time in front of the great stainless steel font. It struck me this morning, as I launched into the fifth “blessed art thou amongst women…” that a lot of concentrated, spiritual attention was focused on that section of kitchen tile. So many books on meditation recommend setting aside a specific place to further empower one’s daily practice. Short of my actual altar, I spent more time talking to God in front of the fridge than I do anywhere else in the house.

photo Mario Corrigan, www.kildare.ie
photo Mario Corrigan, http://www.kildare.ie

Then it occurred to me that prayer has always been centered around sacred springs. Brigid’s Well in Kildare remains one of my favorite places in Ireland. There was most certainly a deep and abiding power there. That power came from generations of prayer as well as from the holy nature of water itself.

There are streams near the house, bodies of flowing life that so inspire me on these thawing days when the hush of spring is in the air. So rarely do I remember that the same water flows from our own humbly red-capped well and fills my cup. It’s that sense of disconnection that is so easy to get trapped in when eggs come from cardboard cartons and chickens are born covered in plastic wrap. Sweet, fresh water comes from the belly of the earth, not from an unending labyrinth of pipes.

And then I realize that I may not be moved to talk to Mary just because I am trying to be more conscious of the divine and because its a good way to kill time. It may be that a part of me I barely recognize is trying to get connected. I am giving thanks for precious water because something deep in my ancestral core knows that to worship at a well is to see the face of God.

8 thoughts on “Worshipping at the Sacred Well

  1. brandi February 23, 2009 / 8:12 pm

    A) *snicker* on referring to the blessed virgin mary as an acronynm

    B) true joy rebel-ness is connecting with yourself in the way that works

    C) you inspire me to see new ways where I can connect

    D) my sacred space is the shower. you are so totally right on about why water calls to us so deeply and I had never thought of it that way.

    rock on.

    • girlwhocriedepiphany February 23, 2009 / 8:21 pm

      My Mom and Nanna always used “BVM” as code (as in, “say a few extra prayers to the BVM. Mum” whenever Nanna was worried and Mom was trying to get her to relax).
      Yayyy living my joy-rebel self! Hope your cold gets better soon! xo

  2. Sunrise Sister February 23, 2009 / 9:09 pm

    Amen to worshiping at the well – great post!!

  3. Daryl February 24, 2009 / 1:34 pm

    Someday you might want to read The Secret Knowledge of Water: Discovering the Essence of the American Desert, by Scott Childs (0-316-61069-0)

    • girlwhocriedepiphany February 24, 2009 / 1:54 pm

      Thanks for the recommendation, Daryl. I can’t say I have spent any time thinking about water through the perspective of the desert.
      And thanks to you, Sunrise Sister!

  4. Danny Lucas February 24, 2009 / 3:36 pm

    Desert perspective on water will raise your eyes and vision.

    She came to the well at midday.
    The other women in the village all came early morning or before, as it is too hot to work in the desert in midday.

    But there would be nobody there to notice her at midday.
    She had a reputation. Her gender despised and ostrasized accordingly. She always went alone.
    And, if women would not have her in spirit; men would have her in body. It was a self defeating snare.

    He sat there to rest; an oasis in a faster paced life to come. His friends had gone to town for food and he was alone when she approached the water well.

    It was a mismatch equivalent to a man from Tel Aviv having a discussion with an Iranian woman now. But she knew men well, and how to talk the talk of men.

    I once asked my sister for her favorite Bible story, and she replied simply “The Woman at the Well”. This intrigued me, for she did not say WHY it was her favorite, only that it was.

    “Can I have a drink?, asked HE.

    “You don’t have a bucket. The well is deep’, said SHE.
    (Simultaneously, an epiphany came to her that this class of man does NOT talk to this class of woman).

    HE spoke to her of being thirsty, and having a preference for “living water” that you drink and never thirst anew.

    Coca Cola could market that!

    She spoke of the well, her ancestors, worship. He ignored it all, and spoke of her life, as if HE had been her shadow, or conscience, and present at all occurrences she had ever experienced….including a life with 5 various men.

    There was NO way any of the five men could know this, let alone a total stranger.
    But her thirst, like ours, is often spiritual, not physical. And we try to meet the need by sipping the combined Hydrogen and Oxygen molecules known as water.
    But, it was the wrong combination of molecules this time.

    HE knew too much about HER for it to be a coincidence of any sort.

    “You’re a prophet, and we are all waiting for the prophet and Messiah to save us some day”

    “That would be ME!”, said HE

    It was as if East had met West as it dawned on her,…the least likely person on Earth to meet the Messiah face-to-face,….that she had!
    Indeed, in all of history, she would be the FIRST person to whom HE would make this claim!

    My sister loved Jesus Christ revealing Himself as Messiah, for the first time ever, to a woman…nay, the least likely woman of all women.

    The full story is well told in this version:

    Receiving water in the desert times of your life not only saves the body, it frees the spirit to recognize Truth.

    True needs are truly met in abundance when what we thirst, is quenched.

    • girlwhocriedepiphany February 26, 2009 / 12:04 pm

      Dear Danny, Thank you so much for sharing this story. I realize that that though I am familiar with the themes, the actual passage id new to me. What a beautiful reminder – we need to remember to sustain the soul as well as the belly.

      Dear Painter, Growing up by the ocean, fresh water springs and river are still a novelty to me. After a rain, the sandy earthy just used to suck the water away! Living in a place of stone and mountain and streams is still a delicious novelty to me.

  5. Painterofblue February 24, 2009 / 9:19 pm

    Wells and springs have always held great power for me as a symbol of the source of Divine Creativity. I love hearing your experiences with the same symbols. The idea transforming wasted time like filling a water bottle into something of greater connection is beautiful.

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