In Celtic spirituality and understanding springs and wells are thresholds and sacred places where hidden realities and worlds become visible. From silence and deep darkness springs gush forth to a world of light, color and sound joining other life forms taking part in a much greater, richer existence. The Celts and Native Americans understood the connectedness of all creation and that the intricate patterns of all life, both hidden and evident, form and formless are interwoven and not separate from each other.
The little Roe River, the shortest river in the world, rises in Giant Springs Park in Great Falls, MT where I used to live. It runs just a mere 201’ before merging with the Missouri which joins the Mississippi at St. Louis and eventually flows into the sea. About 3,000 years ago evaporation from a tropical system over the ocean formed water that fell as rain or snow on the Little Belt mountains 60 miles from Giant Springs. During all that time the water has seeped underground through a limestone aquifer to finally emerge into the daylight as the Roe River and then to join the great river system that waters and blesses our land. The little river flows mostly underground, but from the mountains to Giant Springs its path is set to arise as beauty and blessing for the earth.
A river or stream is much more than just flowing water. It has a rich world of banks and flood plains each supporting vegetation and habitat. It is not separate from its surroundings. It sustains aquatic life within itself; it has a riverbed which may be rocky or sandy making water ripples, eddies, whirlpools and waterfalls; it has tributaries and backwaters as it carves its way down to the sea.
Like the river we too are composed mostly of water arising out of a deep watery darkness before being born to consciousness, color, light, sound, relationship and life. We sense intuitively without quantifiable data that our lives have purpose, direction, meaning and destiny. But while we may speculate on how we got here, we have no knowledge or memory of the great darkness from which we come. Like the Roe, that path of our life is hidden. After birth, we like the little river quickly join others to form relationships as together we bless and enrich the world around us. Like the river too we have the power both to sustain and to destroy. But unlike the river, we humans possess choice and consciousness. Before our human form sinks back to our source in the formless, we have some degree of intentional agency.
I’m grateful for the wisdom of the ancient Celts and their vision and treatment of all creation as a portal or icon through which to view the sacred immutable patterns of all life. For our short time in the light let us follow a counter-cultural pattern with each other by doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly that we, like the rivers, may bless the world around us as together we flow towards the sea.
 Micah 6:8