Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 3)

MEETING AT THE WELL
(John 4: 5-42)

You can’t hide from your need for water.
From the others – the ones whose eyes
are like their words, whose words have felt

like bones, like stones in the chest –
from them you hide till noon, the heat
as hard as earth baked by the sun:

from that too there is no hiding,
like your shame, the cindering pain
of your mistakes, the regret of every

failure, the ruined relationships
lying heavy on your heart
as a jar full of water in your hands.

You can’t escape that weight.
You have carried it and carried it,
the freight of shame that shrinks you

in your attempt to hide from even
your need for the acceptance
that your heart craves like water,

that deeper need that will not let you go.
And neither do the eyes of the man
who meets you at the well this heated

day: his eyes that hold to yours with
no hostility, with no judgment;
that are gentle, calm as waters

in a deep well. Your habitual distrust
of men, strangers, the Jews
is hard-baked, yet – how strange – you

feel no need to hide, no sense of danger,
just curiosity when he asks you for water
just as if no gulf exists

between you to cross. Stranger still
his words that follow, promising
a gift of living water which will

satisfy forever, gushing up into life
that is eternal. How his words echo
within you, as in an empty well

where unhealed ache lies parched
like withered ground, where your deep
need for love has gone unfilled.

How quick your answer in reply: Sir,
give me now this water, that I
may no more need this well – and

that the well of need within me
may be filled.
And here it is, in the way
he gives it – he opens up your pain,

he confronts with you the shame
that has held you prisoner, but
from him no condemnation

of the failures that have fractured
your life. How like a flowing river
is this unflinching acceptance,

how like a thirst being quenched
this taste of love. Now there is
no more need for hiding; and let

the jar you took to the well be left
for later. That other weight you carried
has been left there too, and in its

place this lightness, this freedom
of breath, of being, that from now
will be carrying you in words of call:

The Christ who meets you at your well
is for the world.

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3 thoughts on “Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 3)

  1. Darrow says:

    Andy, I am very grateful for your soulful reflections on scripture.

  2. Rhonda Hartweg says:

    You captured the jewels of this passage that contains more sermons than I can count–and didn’t avoid the parts that are hard to look at–awesome!

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