Sabbath at the Well

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman, by Jesus Mafa

When I signed up to write for the Third Sunday of Lent, I had grand plans to write a brilliant post on the Samaritan woman at the well. After all, this provocative story is bursting with possibilities. For example, check out this powerful post John Slattery wrote a few years ago. This Gospel story is, pardon the pun, a wellspring of theological reflection.


I can’t. I am just so tired. I feel like a damp, limp washcloth, wrung almost dry. I feel like an empty vessel, with nothing left to give. I feel like a Montana creek at the end of August, barely a trickle left. I have no wisdom to offer today and any attempt at something different would be dishonest. The truth is, I just want to rest and be in the presence of Wisdom-made-flesh who sees and loves me as he sees and loves the Samaritan woman.

So instead of a post about the Samaritan woman and the well and the living water and Jesus’ attentiveness to this nameless outsider, I’m going to sit at the well with her and invite our readers to do the same.

I know. Resting seems indulgent right now. After all, I’m writing this from my home with a stocked fridge and a warm bed and running water. I’m not frightened for my life or the lives of my family members. I (for the moment) have adequate healthcare and a steady income. I have a voice and I want to use it to fight for all the basic human rights that are currently being threatened at every turn.

At the same time, I also need to acknowledge that I am one person who needs to rest now and then.  It is too easy to forget—even for (or maybe especially for) theologians–that we are never in control of the movement of the Spirit. Today I’m surrendering to this need for rest. For those of you who can relate, I invite you to join me. Let’s take a moment, sit at the well, drink deeply from its cool, refreshing water, and just feel seen and loved. Perhaps taking a true Sabbath at this well, with Jesus and the Samaritan woman for company, will rejuvenate us so that we are better able to go announce the good news. That is my deep hope, anyway.

Resting at the well, I do catch glimpses of hope. Here in Helena, the seasons are changing. Yesterday I saw a crocus popping out of the earth and the chickens laid eight eggs. It reached 70 degrees yesterday. The snow is almost completely melted in our yard. I’m wearing sandals.

So, taking my cue from the Samaritan woman, I’m resting at the well of Spring, praying,

“Fill my cup, Jesus. Jesus, fill my cup.”