GET ROOTED IN THE POSSIBLE
For most of us, life consists of a series of patterns, which we more or less consistently follow, calling it our “routine.” By the “routine” of our life, to the observant, we demonstrate a great deal of what is important to us and what is not. The simple fact is, the truth is what we do. When the Samaritan Woman encounters Jesus, she is in the midst of doing her “truth.” The noon day sun is very intense in that part of the world, and most likely the woman was coming to the well at that hour to avoid social contact. Whether her isolation was self imposed, or not, the gospel does not mention.
Jesus demands of her a drink, which seems to us to be a bit presumptuous. However, hospitality in Mediterranean culture is extremely important, and he was merely reminding her of her social obligation, which she probably was not pleased to oblige. She had access to the well, he did not. What ensued was a bit of a verbal contest in which she could satisfy his thirst, and Jesus could satisfy hers. Apparently, both their needs were met. While Jesus asked penetrating questions, demonstrating an understanding of her life circumstances, he did not accuse her of sin or offer her forgiveness. However, we as readers/hearers of this story often impose a judgment upon her. A seemingly minor point, yet significant, is that when the disciples returned, she left somewhat hastily because she left her water jar behind.
She apparently overcame her isolation and engaged the people of that town enough for them to go see for themselves who this foreigner might be. Even more amazing was that afterwards, they apparently continued to engage her, if even in a somewhat dismissive way. It appears that her past was no longer the impediment to social interaction that she had previously experienced. Neither for her, nor for ourselves, is our past our “potential.”
Many of us find ourselves rooted in the past, which even God cannot change. There we adjust our lives to accommodate the enormity of our shame or guilt. What the story of the Samaritan Woman invites us to consider is becoming re-rooted in our possibilities, not our past. The “Living Water” Jesus refers to, enables us to flow past and beyond those moments which constrict our lives and narrow our options. Jesus reminds us that we don’t have to face the heat of the day alone, but can live and breathe and have our being in the freedom of a redeemed people.
The sacrament of reconciliation is our invitation to Jacob’s well. Like the Samaritan Woman, we can engage in a routine enumeration of the facts of our lives and continue struggling along as we have, or we can open ourselves to reengaging a new set of possibilities for living a fuller, richer life. Showing up for confession is a demonstration of how we can be rooted in reality, in the unexpected, and the possible. We can continue living the hardships of isolation and estrangement from the best part of ourselves, or we can leave our water jar behind and reengage with all those aspects of ourselves from which we have become strangers. The Living Water is calling, drink deeply.