Celebrating Holy Wells Day
Brian Grogan SJ May 2020
National Holy Wells Day – Sunday 14th June 2020
While Holy Wells can be visited at any time of the year, you are particularly invited to visit your local Holy Well on Ireland’s National Holy Wells Day–the middle Sunday in June. [This year there may be crowd restrictions at the Wells due to the coronavirus]. Holy Wells have long been convenient gathering places, enabling community bonding to occur. People will come and go, and your visit will enable you to go back to your roots and think gratefully of the many who have used this well before you and whose lives are woven into its history.
The Beauty of Water Give yourself some time to contemplate the beauty of the Well’s surroundings—the sounds, the birds and insects, the trees and shrubs, the stones, the play of light and shadow, the caress of the breeze. Most of all notice the water itself, whether it is still or flowing: touch it, let it flow through your fingers; perhaps bless yourself with it. And bless God for the gift of water, asking forgiveness for the fact that the priceless gift of clean drinking water is denied to some three billions of our sisters and brothers across our Common Home.
A Family Day If you can make the trip a Family Pilgrimage, make sure that the children are fully engaged. After all, when you love something which has a long tradition, you will want to hand it on to the next generation. So before setting out, download from our website–www.lovingsisterearth.com—pages with outline sketches, and get them to colour them in. You could also tell the stories which perhaps your own parents taught you about the Well, and which their grand-parents taught them, and so on into the mists of your family tree. If you know the story of the local Saint after whom the Well is named, tell it–or let the children tell it to you.
Celebrate at Home If you can’t access a Holy Well, you can symbolise one at any time simply by turning the tap gently on, or putting a glass of water on your kitchen table, or filling a container and placing it in the middle of your garden.
Contemplate the water! Simply take a long, loving look at what is there before you: that’s what contemplation is! Admire it, wonder at it. Gaze on it as God does. Be grateful for it. Perhaps you can learn to chat with this water as with a friend, because in reality it is a vital friend to you. Imagine how it would reply if it had a voice that you could hear. This may sound a little weird, but the Bible writers didn’t think so! They were aware that Nature was close at hand and that it speaks its own language: so they wrote: ‘The heavens are telling the glory of God’: ‘Ask the beasts and they will tell you’: ‘I heard every creature singing’: ‘Bless the Lord, all you waters’ – and so on. We can learn from them and from St Francis who saw created things as his sisters and brothers, an spoke with them accordingly.
Ask the water about its origins four billion years ago, and about the journey it had to make to get to you today. Read up the story of Water on the Web!
Ask it how it feels to be such a gift to humans and plants, birds and animals, and all living things.
Share its pain in becoming so polluted that it carries water-related diseases, which lead to innumerable deaths among the poor, especially children.
Consider that many people have never seen pure water, and never will.
Allow your heart to be changed! This is what Pope Francis refers to as Eco-conversion. It happens when you fall in love with Nature, and since we defend what we love, Nature will be able to rely on you to conserve, beautify and protect her.
‘But What Can I do to Protect Water?’
There may already be a local Action Group around water which you can join. Pope Francis asks us to discern together what can be done; the Holy Spirit will help us in that task. Pope Francis also asks us to believe that ‘all it takes is one good person to restore hope’ (Laudato Si’ 71). Can that person be you?
Can you help to conserve and protect water in your area?
Can you support organisations such as Trocaire, Goal and Concern?
Can you spread hope across the world by twinning with a village in a drought-stricken area?
Can you help to restore a local Holy Well? The website lovingsisterearth.com offers a Holy Wells Ritual and other resources for whatever initiatives you can undertake.
Why not read the encyclical Laudato Si’ or start with a simple booklet version of it: Finding God in a Leaf by Brian Grogan SJ, Messenger Publications 2018)?
The characteristics of Christian Celtic Spirituality are like an underground river that runs throughout the land just waiting to be invited to the surface to quench again the thirst of our searching people.Father Neal Carlin. (Columba Community, Derry)