The "Blue Hole"

The "Blue Hole"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Welcome to the Headwaters Blog, a “place” for insights, observations, reflections and celebrations of the sacred lands and waters at the “head” of the San Antonio River – a place that continues to draw people today as it has for over 11,000 years. 

The Headwaters Sanctuary – a 53-acre natural area in the heart of San Antonio -- was set aside in 2008 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word who have occupied and owned land in this prominent area near Hildebrand and Broadway since 1897.  As part of a “greening Sister” movement worldwide, the Sisters of Charity are coming to understand that the natural and cultural treasures of this beautiful place they have long stewarded in a sense belong to us all.  After all, the story of San Antonio is the story of the San Antonio River, and it begins at the “Head of the River,” the Congregational seat for the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

The Sisters’ gift of the Headwaters Sanctuary is a gift of thanksgiving for God’s Creation.  It is a gift to the San Antonio community who share in its history, and a gift to all the living things that live, grow and use its lands and waters.  It is a tangible expression of the Sisters’ growing awareness that we are called as faithful humans to love, honor, respect, and care for all of God’s creation.

Long ago, the Congregation’s founding Bishop Claude Dubuis issued a call which three founding Sisters from France answered.  As citizens were literally dying on the streets of San Antonio, he wrote:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering in the persons of a multitude of the sick and dying of every kind, seeks relief at your hands.”

So the three founding Sisters answered the call by coming to San Antonio and opening the city’s first infirmary. They came to care for those persons who were “sick and dying,” mostly of cholera, a waterborne disease that killed hundreds back when the town used the San Antonio River as a sewer and waste disposal system. 

In many ways the Earth itself is now “sick and dying” along with too many of its impoverished people.  It may be that the Sisters' founding call has taken on an additional new meaning:  to offer relief to a suffering Earth.  The Headwaters Sanctuary is a place – though not the only place among the Congregation’s ministries -- where Earth’s healing can occur, at our hands, and where we can deepen our understanding of our relationship to the rest of Creation. 

The Headwaters ministry, as I see it, embodies the idea of “think universal; act at home” (wherever you may be). The Headwaters Sanctuary is part of the Congregation’s original “home” and the stewardship of this place is a manifestation of a larger grander purpose:  to literally care for a sick and dying Earth and by so doing to foster humanity’s growth into “right relationship” with God who is incarnate in God’s Creation – not least the Earth and all of its living and non-living things. 

As Frank Lloyd Wright once put it:   “….nature is the only body of God we shall ever see.”

We welcome you to visit us here in the blogosphere as well as on the ground -- to enjoy the stories and reflections inspired by this sacred place, and to walk the nearly one mile of walking trails that currently exist throughout the Sanctuary.  We welcome you to lend a helping hand during any of our volunteer days.  Most of all, we welcome your thoughts, comments and reflections on this important work.  For more information about the Headwaters, visit our website at