Sunday, March 23, 2014

Well Water

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?

Wayne Forte


Laurie said...

We are on a well. Childhood memories of the water truck coming were YEA!! We had water again. In the U.K. in parts they still celebrate "Well Dressings", a way to honour the water from "Mother" earth. It is beautiful to see, wonderful pictures of soil, flower petals, sand, twigs, leaves etc. I don't really think of Christ as "Living water", if the world doesn't have water, we have no life. If the world doesn't have Christ. the world still has life.

Frank said...

I like the story of the woman at the well.
It portrays Christ, not just as "Living Water", but also his radical mission of inclusion (ie. a Samaritan, a woman, one of low social regard). She is welcomed, unconditionally, into Christ's fold. She goes a step further, and takes it upon herself to proclaim Christ to her community, despite her obviously low social standing in the fabric of that community and her risk of ridicule.
From a spiritual perspective, I think the image of "Living Water" is one of abundance, not scarcity. God's grace is amply available to all.
Not so with the earth's physical supply of fresh water. It is not evenly distributed, nor is it always allocated with fairness and justice while administered under human control.

Laura said...

I'm a little late chiming in but remember the "chore' of going to the well for water at the cottage. My Dad always said it was the best tasting water, anywhere.

We are using a popular kids book this Lent for our mission project called "How Full Is Your Bucket?" which although not biblically based tied in really well to last week's Sunday school lesson about the woman at the well and living water. This fictional story tells us that we fill or dip from each other's buckets with every interaction in our day and how we might be bucket fillers in the world (rather than dippers)by sharing time, compassion, help, kindness etc if we are to see every person we come across as a whole person, yearning for love and connection and wholeness, just as we do.

This story has offered another opening to reflect on God as our "great bucket filler" and one that fills our buckets with an eternal spring, rather than the more fleeting type we humans can offer and take away from each other.

The book actually began as a business book for human resource management but simplified to its core message speaks to our human story at every stage. And I guess if i think about it Jesus was God's greatest human resource guy!

Judy Mcknight said...

I like Frank's comments - that is my understanding of the Gospel of Christ...

David Mundy said...

Thanks for enriching this discussion with your comments. I like the idea of "Well Dressing." It honours the importance of water. Would it feel the same at the water treatment plant?!

I agree about abundance and scarcity, and I love that the children are pondering full buckets.