This week we welcome poet Ileana Santamaria to help illuminate the Bible through Spark and Echo Arts with her work of poetry in response to the theme of Friend. Ileana used several passages to inspire her poem:
Song of Songs 5:16, John 8:12, 14:6, and 15:13, focusing on the words from John 15, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”


Listen to “where these things forever spring” 

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where these things forever spring

my beloved…
and my friend.
not a means to this be-loving
but its end
an end for love the greater that
it would, as our Savior its incarnation did, it could
lay down even life and limb
and loving Him
in Him we be-get

ever and ever the twain shall meet in you
shall beat in me, my sweet
my ardent and impatient heart
softened by the pain, and
chastened by the wait, until
freed from demand and
fed to fullness by its Lord of love, it can only
give, can only brim, can only sate

so for now
let us dance
take my hand, for
we shan’t be long in this foreign land
the real country awaits us, the true,
o you, o beloved who are first and foremost friend
let us delight in a love without end
let us rejoice! we, the cherished little children
of an ever-loving King
found, by Him and by each other,
hand in hand, our trail lit by the Light of the Truth
on the Way! Yes, lit! by the Light of the Truth on the Way…
back home to
climb into His arms
perfectly home, perfectly safe, perfectly loved
where it is forever spring
where these things forever spring


From Ileana: Borrowing the beautiful words of the Shulamite and juxtaposing them with Jesus’ words about sacrificial love as the ultimate expression of friendship, I’ve attempted in this piece to stand in the sometimes uncertain, heady place where erotic, romantic love and other-seeking friendly devotion joyfully unite to create the “haven in a heartless world” that was and is a reality for the Shulamite and Solomon and for so many others. The character here is exuberantly and optimistically getting ahead of herself as it remains unclear whether her friend desires to be her beloved. She wishes to be the Shulamite and to love her beloved as woman and with a Christ-like, sacrificial love that rejoices in their ultimate hope, together, even while still on earth – how much more so upon return to the “true country” (and here I’ve borrowed liberally from C.S. Lewis and Tim Keller, authors to whom my intellectual and spiritual debt is great). This is an invitation – simple, joyful and not a little wistful, childlike, and completely vulnerable – to take the hand of one who dares to love him and embark together on the great adventure of our journey back to the Throne of God.

The piece was initially intended to be only spoken word, but Kamel Boutros, a friend and musical collaborator who has set my poems to music in the past, suggested that parts of the piece should be sung and wrote a lovely melody that highlighted the central themes of vulnerability and childlike joy nicely. He also accompanied the sung parts. My sincere thanks go out to him for contributing his great talent, creativity, and time.


Ileana Santamaria was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in the New York/New Jersey area. A baptized Christian by her tenth birthday, she was lovingly brought back home by the Good Shepherd, a reluctant yet chastened sheep, in her late twenties. Ileana is a translator by trade, and the artistic pursuits she is keenest on and best at involve words – writing them, playing with them, reading and sometimes singing them – and percussion, specifically Arabic hand percussion. The gift of facility for foreign languages and of a love for the Arab world and its people are two other great joys generously granted her by her heavenly Father, thanks to Whom her cup overflows.

This work is copyrighted by Ileana Santamaria and shown here by permission. If you are interested in this or other work by Ileana Santamaria please Contact Us for assistance.

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