Oh I do like to be beside the seaside! My annual escape to the country includes a few days’ stay at the atmospheric ‘Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham’ in Norfolk. This is a place of tangible spirituality and credible folk lore. There are romantic Abbey ruins in beautiful grounds nearby; a visual reminder of the dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII.
As I reflect upon my visit there, thunder is booming and rain pouring– this takes me back to a cold and damp Autumnal visit to Wells Next Sea, only a few miles away from Walsingham.
Gastronomic consolation! My umbrella had been blown inside out by the wind and by the time I came across a local gem of a restaurant I was a little wet around the edges. However, tucking into a really fresh crab salad and a glass of sauvignon blanc provided comfort and consolation to my dampened senses!
Tides of Tranquillity: As I walked back to get the bus the light was dull, the rain became a gentle drizzle, the tide had gone out and there was an expanse of labyrinth-like sand dunes, grassy wetlands and small tributaries of sea water. I reflected on the bounty of the sea (my crab lunch!) and how beautiful the slightly barren landscape looked.
Health is like a tide: Within the sphere of my work, as a therapist, I often think that wellness has an affinity with the rhythms of the sea: depending on stress factors, our energy levels and mood swings are like the tides ebbing and flowing to varying degrees.
Some watery facts: ‘only 2.5% of the Earth’s water is freshwater and 98.8% of that water is in ice and groundwater’. (Wikipedia) ‘In the human body water can account for around 60% of an adult’s body weight’. (The Human Body by Dr. Tony Smith).
More fascinating, perhaps, is the relationship between words and water as discovered by a Japanese scientific researcher – Dr. Masaru Emoto. His long years of research work with frozen water ice- crystals demonstrated that “from beautiful words and music, come beautiful crystals; and from mean-spirited, negative words, come malformed and misshapen crystals”
Celtic Reflections: Returning to the historic village of Walsingham,
I purchased a booklet entitled Celtic Reflections by Martin Wallace in which it coincidentally and empathetically stated:
“Allow the love of God to flow over you but then allow it to flow out again for others like the sea”.
Spiritual Hydration: The theme of water continued with the evening’s service – an invitation to meditate on unconditional love, (inspired by the compassionate and forgiving example of Jesus) our own needs and the needs of others. This quietly powerful service concluded with a laying on of hands, an anointing with oil and a ‘sprinkling’ of the Holy water from the Shrine well.
The significant ‘H20’ connotations regarding the Shrine’s Well (Over the years powerful healings have been associated with this resource) reminded me of a hopeful Christian message which states:
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within.”
The body’s ‘bubbling Spring’: Beside the Shrine House entrance there is a pretty pond and water fountain which tunefully tingles and consistently bubbles away. This energetic sound reminded me of a significant acupressure point on the foot (Kidney 1) its resonance is with water, cleansing and life-force vitality; its metaphoric TCM* title is ‘Bubbling Spring’!
Water falls from Heaven: In the evening darkness, lights shimmered upon this ‘bowl’ of water and evocatively highlighted a large figure of Christ on the cross close by. Through the window-scape of Shrine House, candle light (red, blue, white) delicately glistened; encouraging me to meditatively linger:
“Have you noticed that water keeps falling over a water fall? It never goes upwards. My (God’s) love keeps falling on you. It is just like that waterfall. I cannot stop it falling on you. It cannot go upwards and leave you. It can only descend on you. Stand under the waterfall of my love and receive”
On a physical level many people imbibe or bathe in nourishing Spa waters to improve their health. The sounds and sight of water can sooth mentally and emotionally and there’s nothing like a holiday by a lake, river or ocean to clear our ‘personal clutter’.
The gift of water hydrates, sustains, refreshes and cleanses all life. It is a most valuable substance for the entire planet and we can’t live without it. Coincidentally – somewhat appropriately – Handle’s Water Music has just started playing in the background! (David Starkey’s Music & Monarchy)!
Rivers for the soul … I hope my recollections invite you to reflect upon the nourishing significance of ‘Water’ in all its guises in your life. I close with this lovely prayer displayed in the All Souls Chapel at Walsingham:
“May we who declare our faith in this fountain of love and mercy, drink from the water of everlasting life. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord and God”