Woman at the well

          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.”

         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.

                  —John 4.17-18, 28-30

Noon. Last in line for morning water
(lukewarm, dirty, too late for breakfast). A pariah.
No wonder: she’s been used and thrown away five times,
now with a guy who uses her but won’t claim her.
(Marriage wasn’t in a woman’s power. She’s merchandise.)

Jesus sees all that, and—get this—moves right past it.
That’s not who she is.
He engages her like a rabbi, discussing, disputing.
Talking theology. Talking would you believe it theology!
(The Canaanite woman is the only other person, male or female,
who can carry on with Jesus like this.
Hm. What’s with these women?)

She leaves her jug. Because she knows she’s coming back.
She’s been transformed from pariah to preacher,
the first Christian evangelist. How did that happen?

Jesus saw the gift in her.
Saw that spring of water gushing up to eternal life in her, already.
The disciples say, “Want some lunch?” and he says,
“No thanks, I’ve already feasted. I’ve been fed.”

God, give me the grace like Jesus to see your divine presence
in every plain and put-down person—
to see their calling, their light, their power,
just waiting to be seen.
Even in myself.
Already she has left her jug for me.
Let her lead me to you. I will leave my city and come with her,
till I am like her, gifted in my wounds, purposefully sent,
confident sister,

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

March 10, 2020

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