Southill Church and Lower Manaton Well, Cornwall, UK
Southill Church on the north east corner of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall is a tiny hamlet, seemingly forgotten by time but full of ancient history. The current church was built in 1333AD but sits on land associated with early Christians including the Celtic saints of the 500s AD. Samson is known to have been here and it's one of the possible locations of his monastery known as Docco.
Today there's clearly still a vibrant worshipping community in the church and it's left open for private prayer. We sat near the altar and started to worship in song. This came easily due to the open heaven in the church and the sense that it is still a very 'thin place' in the Spirit. We sang the song 'Spring up oh well, in the name of Jesus' which God downloaded a few years ago and which is based on Numbers 21:17 before waiting in prayer.
For quite a while I sat prayerful but thinking that perhaps we were just meant to worship and that there might not be an encounter in this place with the Holy Spirit. However, I was wrong.
I became aware of two angels carrying lit candles coming towards my husband and I. It was clear they wanted us to take the candles from them. The one in front of me knelt to hand it to me. However, I felt so aware of my unworthiness, I tried to bow lower. I felt way out of my depth with what was happening. But I took the candle by faith and as I did, a glass dome came over and covered it to protect it from any wind blowing it out. There was an oxygen hole to allow the flame to keep burning and a finger hold on the candle holder. I could hear the Holy Spirit speaking in my mind, 'Take the flame of the Living Word, the Living Sword, the Living Breath. Take and carry it where I lead.'
He continued, 'The breath of God, the fresh wind of God, take this light, this flame of Life and spread the wildfire of the ancient heart, the fire of abandoned joy in surrendered obedience. Wildfire grow, blaze, set Cornwall on fire.' It felt like a prayer being spoken over us.
As I take the candle from the angel I'm suddenly and unexpectedly overcome and start to weep, feeling totally unworthy but also way out of depth. Yet I knew my heart was saying 'yes' to this commission. I became aware there were many more angels present, watching, than I'd realised and it was very humbling.
When we came to leave, my husband and I started to sing, 'You shall go out with joy and be led forth with peace' at which point we joined hands and literally danced down the aisle, the impartation of joy having hit our spirits and beginning to outwork. It felt a holy moment indeed.
Not far from the church is Manaton Holy Well, so we went to find it. It's very easy to miss as it is only accessible by a hidden flight of ancient steps which lead to the well which is situated by a pretty moorland stream in a glade. The well itself was nothing special, a stone well house, rectangular , rather dank but full of water. Why it would be next to flowing water is rather a mystery. It's a very pretty setting, secluded, hidden, ancient. However, whether this is a holy well is rather debatable, as I discovered afterwards there is another Manaton well, just a few hundred meters back up the river which has a well house and is known as a holy well. Unfortunately it's on private ground and we didn't get to see it. We didn't feel to pray at the well we did find, so perhaps it isn't a holy well. I wasn't able to find out but include it as a point of interest anyway. It was certainly ancient and one of those mysteries lost in the hiddenness of time.