Sunday, March 23, 2014
I remember as a kid going to the farms of a couple of family friends where they had an outside hand pump which extended down into a well. It was an almost miraculous experience for my brother and me to heave our childish weight against the squealing handle, pumping up and down until water began gushing out onto the ground. We grew up without having to think about the source of our water, which was only the turn of a tap away. Imagine that we could use our youthful enthusiasm to summon water up out of the earth! Okay, entertainment was different back then.
Humans figures out millennia ago that it was possible to ensure a reasonably constant source of water by digging down far enough to reach the water table which wasn't visible at the surface. Little wonder then that wells often became the places of sacred encounters and mystical experiences. In the Celtic tradition of Ireland there are many springs and wells dedicated to St. Brigid, who may be the Christianized version of the Druidic goddess Brigid. There are actually tours of the wells of Ireland for those so inclined.
I really like Lent 3's story of Jesus' encounter with a woman at a well, the gospel reading for today. It's unfortunate that the woman isn't given a name, but this is the longest conversation Jesus has with any person in the gospels, so it is significant. I appreciated the confusion on her part over whether this apparent simpleton just doesn't understand what a well is for. When she awakens to the possibility that Jesus is promising abundant life in the metaphor of living water her life is transformed. She goes from being a person with a "rejected heart," to use John Shea's term, to an accepted heart where love and hope are renewed.
Yesterday was United Nations International Water Day (yup, another of those days) which was an opportunity to consider the preciousness of H2O. Today can be Universal Living Water Day, which is the gift of Christ.
Are you on a well? Do you have memories of wells from your past, good or bad? Do you like the Christian imagery of the well, and Christ as Living Water?