catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 18 :: 2010.10.08 — 2010.10.21


Water from the well

I don’t know much about her.  Not even her name.  I’m sure she had to walk miles to draw water that day, and that she felt somewhat out of place, on the margins of society.  Drawing from wells was done early in the morning and late at night.  She showed up at Jacob’s well, right as the sun was overhead, the exact time the man was stopping for a drink.  She had been hoping to avoid people that day, but this was worse.  They shouldn’t have even been seen together.  If word got out, it would be a scandal. 

I also met a man at a well, Jacob’s Well.  For him it was a daily walk, and for me a random trip.  This time, he was on the margins, and not I; him living on the street, pushing a shopping cart, high as a kite, and I the eager suburban American, ready to save the world with my faith.  I was thirsty, hungry for more of God on this trip. 

His name was George, but that’s likely just his street name.  It is easier that way, less painful.  Tall and thin with a hollow face and shaking from his last heroin fix just minutes ago, George told me of a church he went to where they talked about water. 

Not just any water, he said, real, living water.  His eyes were wide in awe as he stared into my own. 

I believed him. 

The man, Jesus, told this nameless woman about the same water. 

Her eyes, also wide in awe: “But the well is deep and you’ve nothing to draw with, where do you get this living water?”

They went on to talk about worship; we talked about camping, from behind the free table outside the storefront, conversing as if we were old friends.  As if we had known each other from somewhere else.  As if it did not matter that he was shaking slightly in layers of torn clothing, and I stood behind a table offering clothes and a conversation.

If you ever need some water, there’s a place just right down the street, he said, turning now to leave.  They give it out for free.  Clean water, you never can find enough of it. 

Thanks, I smiled up at him, my eyes now wide in awe of his graciousness.  He offered me what he had: a place he knew was safe, water he knew was clean.

She was offered water that would never leave her thirsty.  Water so clean, so free, so pure that it would spring up a gushing well within her very being. 

Did she understand?  

Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw. 

No longer having to make the hot journey in the middle of the day.  No longer trying to avoid the gossip of the townspeople who called her a whore, even though the countless men who had abandoned her had each been her legitimate husband.  No longer having to be seen in public without a man to accompany her. 

Go call your husband and come here, he told her.   

He knew.  As if they had met sometime before.  She was curiously brave.

I know that Messiah is coming, the one we call Christ.  When he comes he will declare all things to us, her voice rising in eager excitement.   

He smiled, a deep smile she had not known from a man before.  I, the one speaking to you now, am he. 

And that was enough.  She ran all the way back to her village, water now gushing up from within her and overflowing, her empty pail sitting next to the well. 

I met a man, she said breathlessly.  I met the man who told me everything I’ve ever done. 

And they believed her.

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