Reaching Out

In this session, we reach out for healing water that provides both purification and nourishment. But before we can become filled with spiritual food, we are invited to empty ourselves of the worn-out ways of being that hold us back from living in life. Can we let go of prejudice? Can we let go of criticism and judgement, of ourselves and others?

One thing that we never let go of is the memory of our loved ones and the thirst for lost love that accompanies us on the grief journey.  But in our grief, can we also reach out and fill our cup with living water to renew the spirit? Can we let go not of the grief, but of the guilt and shame that pulls us down and stops us from seeing God in every moment?

A Reading from the Gospel of John

So, he (Jesus) came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)  

Jesus answered 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.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.”  The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”  

The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ).     “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?”  

Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”  They left the city and were on their way to him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.”  But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”  So, the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?”  Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.  Do you not. say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.  The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.  For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’  I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor.  Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.

Sky with Clouds

In this story, the Samaritan woman is an outsider, partly because of cultural differences and partly because of her life choices. She is plagued by guilt and feels no hope.  We know this because she cannot conceive that she is worthy, even of water, when it is offered to her.  She is parched, from the heat of grief that is relentless because of her sense of being different and wrong.  She is inconsolably alone.

And then something happens! In her deep grief, that she hasn’t conformed to the traditions of her culture and faith, she opens to a deeper awareness as she hears the soothing words of Jesus.  That what she has done in her life, that what has happened to her when she courageously faces it and voices it, rather than losing God, can actually bring her closer to the love, compassion and forgiveness of God’s embrace.

The key to this story is:

“Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town…”

What do you think she needed to leave behind in her water jar in order to transform her grief from shame and guilt to a vision and spirit that overflows with water that renews and revitalises life?

With that, we invite you to take a moment to look into yourselves and contemplate the following:

Reflective Questions to Ponder

  • What are you thirsting for in your life?
  • What is your well where you find nourishment and challenge?
  • To receive life-giving water, what do you need to let go of?

Final Words

The ponderings that tonight’s scripture evokes are  “What is it that you thirst for and what do you need to leave behind in your water jar in order to transform how you see the world with renewed spirit?’’

In wondering, we are invited to expand into how not knowing actually brings us closer to God, and continues the bonds with our loved ones who have themselves entered into the great unknown mystery space. The Woman at the Well’s personal revelation of God in that mystery space of wondering, reminds us that whatever we do, whatever happens and whatever arises in us, is fully in the presence of a loving and forgiving God who is with us forever on our life journey.