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The Deep Well of Salvation

Church_in_wales_ Lavernock
Photo of church in Beddgelert, Wales, by flickr user Jim Linwood

[Editor's note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. The reading for this post is Isaiah 12:2-6. Keep reading Bread Blog for more Advent reflections.] 

By Rev. Dr. Rebecca Button Prichard 

My family roots are in Wales. On my first visit to Wales, while searching for those roots, I came upon an ancient well in a deep, green grove. The well was near an old, old church with a Yew tree in its yard. I doubt this is my family's parish, but my imagination led me to hope that my forebears had visited such a well for healing, for spiritual renewal, for prayer or guidance.

Over the years, I have visited deep wells, holy wells throughout Wales and Ireland and Scotland. In these places, clear water springs forth from within the earth. This is the water of salvation, of healing, of cleansing, of baptism, of memory, of hope. These Celtic wells are green and mossy, places of pilgrimage and prayer. The Bible's wells were streams in the desert, water for thirsty travelers, places of meeting, rest and renewal, oases.

Just so, the prophet Isaiah promises that in times of footsore fear, of weary wandering, of watchful waiting, the tired traveler, the advent pilgrim will drink from the wells of salvation - we will draw joy and gratitude from those deep springs beneath the earth. In deserts and in wild woods, the weary will stop and imbibe the clear water of healing and wholeness, of saving grace.

Annie Dillard said, "We catch grace ... as water from a waterfall." The waters of salvation are deep and plentiful. So is grace. Catch it if you can. Lower your bucket. Hold out your empty hands. Let your vessel overflow.

So, stop. Rest. Pray. Drink. Draw grace from the sacred depths of the Word, draw comfort from the Spirit's presence, draw healing from the overflowing love that is God. And then share it, with joy and thanksgiving.

Rev. Dr. Rebecca Button Prichard is a visiting professor of theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

 

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