Saturday, February 23, 2013

Water and life, looking upstream

Ancient depiction of the Samaritan
woman at the well with Jesus
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
John 4:13-17

+ + +

The dawn breaks cold and overcast this morning in Central Virginia. The weather report has icy rain on the way later today. Yet my morning reflection takes me far away, to the life-giving waters of Jacob’s well in the Judean desert that is depicted in John 4:1-26 in today’s Morning Prayer reading.

In the story, Jesus is on his way home to Galilee, having heard an argument has broken out among the Pharisees about the topic of baptism. Jesus cuts through Samaria, a land full of untouchables, and he pauses at the well. He encounters a Samaritan woman, and rich conversation ensues. Gender and religious stereotypes are cast to the dust, and it is one of those stories that preachers can mine from many directions. Indeed, I have commented on it four times before on this page.  We could go many more places; the passage might well have been written as an instruction manual for baptism.

This morning, though, I am struck by the simplicity of the water in the well. Life comes from water. Dirt is washed away by water. The old is washed away, and the new comes from it.

Sometimes in my prayers, I imagine myself sitting beside a cool mountain stream in a grassy meadow. Often I am looking downstream as the water flows past, remembering moments of my life that are gone. But today, I am looking upstream at the water yet to come, and giving thanks for what it will bring.

By James Richardson, Fiat Lux

No comments: