Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Well Wishes...from our Wishing Well

I wish you all the joy you can wish.”
"Our Wishing Well" photo by KL Wood
--William Shakespeare

When my husband, Bill, sets his mind, heart, and creativity to a project, you can rest assured it will be well done. The latest project to catch his imagination has been the designing and building of a Wishing Well for our front yard, complete with water spilling from a tilted brass teapot. The Wishing Well actually serves two purposes: wishing, of course, which I will expound upon in the next paragraph, and the more practical purpose of covering the sump pump necessary to keep our little old cottage from floating away when rainwater pours down Edenton’s West Church Street.

To wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.”
--Jane Austen

But, let’s talk about Wishes. Some say wishing is an empty and fruitless activity. I say,
Photo, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
there’s something innately important in the act of wishing. How many of us have, at that moment before wishing upon a star, a fountain, a Wishing Well, or a birthday candle, stopped to seriously consider what we truly wish for? The very act of wishing crystallizes our most immediate desires and, even believing it to be a silly superstition or ritual, we usually put real thought into it. Having to wish for something makes us think about our priorities in life and, for that fleeting moment, we wonder what it is we really wish were different, or really wish would remain the same. Because...what if that Wish came true? We’ve all heard the old adage, ”Be careful what you wish for.” I can say from my own decades of wishing, I’ve had a couple Wishes come true whose repercussions proved quite challenging.

A dream is a Wish your heart makes.”
Undine by John William Waterhouse, 1872

And what about the tradition of throwing coins, along with our Wishes, into the water? Although Bill likes to tease that we plan to fund our retirement from the Wishes of our fellow Edentonians, and could even offer a drive-by “Easy Pass” plan, I’ve stopped to ponder why coins and Wishes often go hand-in-hand. Back in ancient times, people believed that certain fountains, springs, or wells, were inhabited by gods with the power to grant Wishes (or at least ensure the continuance of the flow of clear, life-giving water.) Throwing valuables into the water was meant to appease the deities and keep life flowing along in a positive direction. In other societies, a Wish was solidified by the making of a sacrifice. If it was important enough to wish for, it was important enough to sacrifice for. In other words, “Put your money where your mouth is,” if you want to see real change. So, today, when we toss in a coin with our Wish, I think the tiny financial expenditure is symbolic of the importance of the Wish we are making. Our first official Well Wisher was neighbor, Deems Cole, who tossed in coins with his Wishes and allowed me to photograph the moment for posterity.
"Our First Well Wisher" photo by KL Wood

As “Keepers of the Well,” we invite you to wish big and wish small, toss a coin or send a prayer. You’re not limited to the traditional three Wishes! Our Wishing Well at 215 West Church Street is always open to you. So...

Stop on by and wish a spell,
You’re Well-come to our Wishing Well.
Wishes really can come true,
And that’s our Wish for each of you.
Touch the bricks and close your eyes,
Make your Wish and realize,
A Wish is hope for better things,
A starting place to give it wings.”
--Kate Ahearn

Thanks for stopping by...y'all come back, now! (And if you don't live near Edenton, North Carolina, our Well takes long-distance Wishes, too!)

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