Wellspring of love


8 Aug 2018

Photo by Mahkeo on Unsplash

In a most inspiring book, Anam Cara, A book of Celtic Wisdom, by John O’Donohue, one of the many parts that touched me is that there is a wellspring of love within us. His words evoke a cascade of thoughts and memories.


You can never love another person unless you are equally involved in the beautiful but difficult spiritual work of learning to love yourself. There is within each of us, at the soul level, an enriching fountain of love … you do not have to go outside of yourself to know what love is … awakening to the hidden love within … makes you independent. You become free of the hungry, blistering need with which you continually reach out to scrape affirmation, respect, and significance for yourself from things and people

outside yourself. 


His words immediately bring to mind Jesus’ words: ‘Whoever drinks this water will be thirsty again; But no one who drinks the water that I shall give will ever be thirsty again; the water that I shall give will become a spring of water within, welling up for eternal life.’ John 4: 13-14


Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy;
And then I heard my Saviour speaking:
“Draw from my well that never shall run dry”.
Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more–
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

I do not know why the woman at the well had five husbands but I imagine that she must have been looking for love in the wrong people. Even though I have known for a long time that I cannot find perfect love except in God, I cannot help wishing for a human person to love me. O’Donohue reminds us that Jesus is our Anam Cara (soul-friend).

I follow O’Donohue’s suggestion, ‘When you have moments on your own or spaces in your times, just focus on the well at the root of your soul. Imagine that nourishing stream … particularly before you sleep. Then during the night you will be in a constant flow of enrichment and belonging … when you awake at dawn, there will be a lovely, quiet happiness in your spirit.’ 

I try to imagine this inner wellspring but find it harder than imagining God’s light cascading on me like a waterfall of light, one of my favourite exercises. 

Water not only cleanses us, it keeps us alive. Without water, we die. St Teresa of Avila used the metaphor of watering a garden to describe four stages of prayer: by taking water from a well; by obtaining water from an aqueduct; by drawing water from a flowing stream near the garden; and finally, by receiving a gentle rain from heaven above. Rather than getting bogged down in the stages of prayer and identifying which stage we are in, the point St Teresa made is that the effort on our part decreases progressively through the stages. Even though I have never drawn water from a well, the discipline required in meditation reminds me of the effort required in the initial stages of prayer. The desire is for the third stage, when we benefit from the stream with little effort, resting in God, who becomes the active presence in our life of prayer; and the fourth stage, the gentle rain, which describes those who are blessed with an enduring union with God.

The image of sunlight, Jesus Light of the World, shining on me and the daily, faithful watering of the garden of my heart through meditation lead gradually to a softening of the soil. Loved by the light and water, the flowers bloom telling me that like them, I am loved. ‘Where before there was hard, bleak, unyielding, dead ground, now there is growth, colour, enrichment, and life flowing from the lovely wellspring of love.’ John O’Donohue. 

Like the Samaritan woman at the well, I came upon a kind stranger, who though tired and thirsty, took the time to listen to me and accepted me, even though I felt different and did not belong. May I have the same kindness and generosity of heart and time to give to others the gift of listening and acceptance, even when I feel thirsty and tired.

Susie Hii is a writer and author of Happy, Healthy, Holy.
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