Another picturesque snowfall today, as newly fallen snow clings to the trees and freshens the winter landscape. The weeks ahead this snow will melt adding needed moisture to the soil, lakes, rivers, and creeks.
Water is essential for us too. A person can live up to three weeks without food but only three days without water. Water is all around us; seventyone percent of the earth is covered with water. However, safe, clean, running water in homes throughout the world is not readily available to all. Millions of families live without it. I remember my visit to Tanzania where women and children were carrying buckets of water on their heads some long distances. Water drawn from large murky ponds, where animals swim, with no assurance that it is safe for drinking, cooking and bathing.
A Samaritan woman encounters Jesus at Jacob’s well while drawing water for her household. Their thirst brings them together. The woman, too, thirsts. Given the strict rules of public decorum men and women that were not related did not talk or have any association with one another in public. Add to this that Jews and Samaritans had been the bitterest of enemies for centuries.
Yet, they visit with each other. The Samaritan woman comes to understand who Jesus is. As Jesus teaches her and reveals more of his identity the woman says, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; when he comes he will tell us everything.” Jesus replies, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.” The woman then hurries away excitedly, to tell others in the town about this extraordinary man at the well.
The author of John’s Gospel says, “The woman left her water jar and went into the town.” Perhaps, knowing she was coming back, or, did the author intend another meaning? Could the jar left behind serve as a metaphor for the life she had been living? Leaving water jars behind can be risky. Maybe we should ask ourselves: What is our water jar? Are we willing to take the risk.
I share this poem for reflection.
The Samaritan woman thought,
“No more thirst, no more long walk,”
when Jesus promised her living water,
unheard of from one with no bucket.
She stayed near him, however;
something seemed promising.
“No bucket, yet he reached deeply
into my life; somehow, he knew.
“His water was his knowledge,
his water was his openness,
his water was his challenge,
his water was his being near.”
He then spoke of having food to eat,
not brought to him by another;
“My food is to do the will of Him
who sent me.” How nourishing!
To consume the will of another
is to be strengthened within,
being able to see, know and be
with the other — his Father.
They invited him to stay with them;
each knew him, even as Samaritan,
each heard for themselves,
first interested by the word of the woman.
— Barnabas Senecal, OSB
St. Benedict’s Abbey, Atchison, Kan. 66002