Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 3,Yr A)

(John 4: 5-42)

How often have I come here,
Jesus, to this place of
old faith and fresh neediness,
bent down with the burden
of my failures, stumbling
in my thirsting for hopefulness,
the cracked vessel of my heart
leaking grief. . .

how often have I come here
not expecting you in the heat
of my pressures,
not expecting you in the stress
of my confusion,
yet meeting you
who offers water to the helpless,
who quenches the raw thirst
for acceptance,
who gives the deep sustenance
of kindness without payment,
the nourishment of love without limit. . .

how often have you met me,
refilling my heart, leaving me
astonished again in the depths of my being
that you waited here
for me, even me?

Copyright ©2017 by Andrew King


Poem For The Sunday Lectionary (Lent 3)

(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.