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Make a Wish in the Well

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As they went up the hill to the town, they met some girls coming out to draw water, and said to them, “Is the seer here?” (1 Samuel 9:11)


Another aspect of Celtic spirituality is the idea of the Holy Well. Carl McColman, in his book, “An Invitation to Celtic Wisdom,” describes the uniquely holy aspects of the local Irish well. Some wells are simple, while others are rather ornate. Some well water comes from a spring, while others come from underground waterfalls, and one even comes from a crevice in a rock that holds standing water. What makes a well holy is the prayer and worship that takes place around it. The spiritual aspects of the well are expressed in the number of Saints who’ve had a well dedicated in their name.

To be honest, I hadn’t given wells much thought, especially their spiritual properties. Then, one day I was at Blank children’s hospital and watched as a little boy’s father gave him a coin, and he closed his eyes, made his wish, and threw the coin into the intricate well made by Sticks, Inc. Then, he and his father walked back past me, and back up the elevator. I can only image what that little guy prayed for. Was he praying for his own cancer? Was his little sister on a ventilator? A wishing well is a secular form of a Celtic Holy Well. It is where we bring our hopes, fears, and dreams.

Today, think about the sacred places in your life. The Celts talk about the “Thin Places,” where heaven and earth come together. For the Celts, wells are often thin places. Church sanctuaries are thin places for me. Floating on the lake I grew up on, is a thin place. Children’s hospitals are thin places for me, as well. In a place like a children’s hospital, people reach out to God with their tears, screams, and deepest need. God is always present where the need is greatest. Find your holy well or thin place, and offer your coin, your cry, or your dream and trust God to meet you there.