“Well, well, well.” “What about three holes in the ground?”
Tonight’s prompt finds me cranking my windlasses, with my bucket on a rope, seeing what I can dredge up from the well, the fount of inspiration.
Already I can hear you cry “Plagiarism!” and quote Heaney. Don’t worry. I am already there.
My prompt for today was dragged up the well of memory by my prompter for the day and, in response, I am going to tell you about three holes in the ground.
Hole in the ground number 1: one looked down by Seamus Heaney.
Heaney’s poem “Personal Helicon” recalls his childhood:
“they could not keep me from wells” / “I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky…”
He was a big fan of wells. Throughout the poem he explore the acts of looking down a well and shouting into it as a metaphor for writing poetry. As he shouted down, he records that:
“Others had echoes, gave back your own call / with a clean new music in it.”
The poem concludes,
“I rhyme / to see myself, to set the darkness echoing.”
In the same way as he looked down the wells to see his reflection, he writes poetry to see his reflection – to understand himself better.
As I look down into the well of wells, the darkness echoes with the next well:
Hole in the ground number 2: the cistern Jeremiah got put in.
Pessimists get a bad name. “Fearmongering” as it is now known – and there is enough of it about these days. But back in the day, Jeremiah had a bleak message for the people and the king didn’t want to hear it:
“The city will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.” Jeremiah 38 vs 3
Because he was discouraging the solders that were left and the people remaining in the city, they:
“lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud.”
Fortunately for Jeremiah, Ebed Melech, an official in the palace pled for permission to get him out, and he was allowed to rescue him.
Jeremiah then is momentarily taken into the confidence of the king who is warned that it would be said about him:
“Your feet are sunk in the mud; your friends have deserted you.”
Bit of a “stick in the mud” prophetic metaphor in play.
Hole in the ground number 3: Jacob’s well
I like this story of Jesus meeting with a Samaritan woman. He asks her for a drink at Jacob’s well. His request for a drink of physical water results in a conversation about “living water”:
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life. John 4 vs 13,14.
Interestingly, as she heads back to her village, “leaving her water jar”, she leaves the physical water she came for, caught up with the truth behind the metaphor in Jesus’ words – she wanted the “living water” that would satisfy eternally.
Well, well, well.
It seems that wells are a rich source of metaphors.
Look down into the darkness to where the water is, the water that refreshes, the water that sustains life. Call into the well to set the darkness echoing – you never know – you may see yourself more clearly. Don’t get stuck in the mud. Be lifted up. When you find what you are really looking for, don’t be surprised if you’ve left your water jar behind.