Teresa had always loved water. It was at once useful, mysterious and beautiful. “What would become of the world if there were no water for washing?” she exclaims in the ‘Way of Perfection’ when considering the properties of water…Besides all else water is a symbol of God’s grace. It is the image she uses more than any in all her writings. Discoursing in the ‘Life’ on the four degrees of prayer she describes the ways in which an orchard can be watered. The water can be brought from a well at the cost of much toil. Or it can be drawn by a windlass—she remembers having drawn this way herself. Or there may be a stream nearby—which means less labor. But best of all when the Lord sends down the rain from heaven, soaking the earth. In the ‘Way of Perfection’ she writes of the source of Living Water at which all are invited to drink while flowing from its streams and rivulets, some great, some small, and little pools for children who else would be frightened at the sight of so much water remained with her the whole of her life. Writing to Gracian in June 1581she envies him for being at the Salamanca monastery which has a view on to the Tormes. In a letter of the following September to Don Jeronimo Reinoso, a friend who helped her with the Palencia foundation, she says that her journeys are “dreadfully tiring,” yet the one from Palencia to Soria had been the reverse (she called it recreation) because all the way along the road there were glimpses of the river keeping her company: que me hacian harta compania. –‘A Journey in Spain: Saint Teresa’ by Elizabeth Hamilton

Travelling down a Spanish river, the Sil, to the Santo Estevo Monastery.

Travelling down a Spanish river


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