Jesus said to 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.’
In the midst of a morning full of anxiety, I lift my head from my stack of bills and the list of people I need to call. Sighing, I realize that the recent ghastly rhetoric of politicians and the short-sighted decisions of CEOs has gotten under my skin. I feel so sad and so worried. In our posturing with one another, as we spew hate and violence, what new atrocities are we getting ready to perpetrate? By ignoring its consequences, what awful wrongdoing are we unleashing on the helpless in our midst? What sort of bleak, horrid world are my grandchildren going to inherit?
Like the Samaritan woman, I need to pause and get a drink of water. Unlike her I don’t need to heft a huge clay jar onto my shoulder and trudge downtown to do so. Ordinary water comes from the spigot right here in my kitchen – a modern day miracle for which I pause briefly to give thanks. But I am in need of water that is both more symbolic and substantial. So I fill an empty plastic Cool Whip container to clean my brushes and head into my studio.
I paint a series of watercolors of the image Jesus gives the Samaritan woman – the water that gushes up to eternal life. It is only the last, the most simple picture, that satisfies me. It is all in blues, and it depicts water bubbling up in many directions from a dark source at the center.
As I paint and pray I find that the bubbling spring pours through everything I do. It is just there, just so. At the source I find again the stranger at the well. He has been sitting at the edge alone, and he asks me for a drink. As I give him water he teaches me something about the fluidity of all connections. This place I have found where wisdom gushes up is good, he tells me.
God is love. Love is what manifests from being centered in the source of living water. Concepts like “me” and “you” don’t necessarily apply, he says. Jaw-dropping change is always possible. It can bubble up anywhere, in any human container. I don’t need to assume that it won’t.
Hope ambushes me. This business of the water surging up – it isn’t just in me that the living spring exists. All of us are linked to God at the core of our being. There is not one of us for whom that isn’t true.
“Speak the truth,” he says. “With gentleness and love, tell how you see things. Never give up. Never think your influence doesn’t matter. And listen well, so that you hear the heartbreak and the fear that lives behind hatred. The world is changing. That is hard.”
Coming back to my workaday stack of bills and calls, I nod my head in passing to the Samaritan woman. “’What did the people of your village do,” I wonder, “when you showed them that you no longer feared them? Is that what taught some of them to find their own inner spring?”
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: Laurie Gudim