Stars from the Bottom of the Well

Lord, in the daytime stars can be
seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells

brighter Thy stars shine;

Let me find Thy light in my darkness,
               Thy life in my death,
               Thy joy in my sorrow,
               Thy grace in my sin,
               Thy riches in my poverty,
               Thy glory in my valley.

The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions,
edited by Arthur Bennet, ©1975, Banner of Truth

 A Story My Father Told Me
When my father was five of six years old his parents dug a 3’ wide by 15’ deep cistern in their backyard.  Grandpa dug the hole by hand; Grandma used a pulley and a bucket to haul the earth to the top. When the cistern was completed, my dad went down to the bottom with his father.  As they looked up they could see stars in the sky even though it was still daytime—or so said my father

I was reminded of his story when I read the prayer printed above.  Having not experienced it myself, I checked it out on the internet only to learn that the story is more fable than fact.  According to Snopes “The belief is an old one. Aristotle in the 4th century BC mentioned it in passing, and Chapter 20 of Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers begins with it. However, ancient or not, the belief doesn’t work in practice.” 

I was mildly disappointed to learn the truth. I suspect that Grandpa told this story to my dad when he was a boy and that Dad then “remembered “ it as factual.

The Truth behind the Story
And yet there is a spiritual truth in this story.  God’s light shines brightest in our darkness. Indeed, the proliferation of street lights and commercial buildings, makes it impossible for us in North Jersey to see the full beauty of the night sky.  To do that we need to get away from the city and go out into the wilderness. There if we embrace the darkness we will also find a beautiful light.

© October 30, 2019 by Rev. Michael A. Weber.
For permission to reprint please contact the author at

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