5 Times Woman
She had always known her own mind. She had never hesitated to speak it.
It was a small community, and some folks felt like she spoke her mind a little too often. Especially considering. And always with the questions!
But the timid folks lived for whatever was going to come out of her mouth. They could never say the things she did…but oh! they were keen to hear her say them. They’d clap their hands over their mouths in shock, but their eyes would dance, and they’d rejoice within.
Because the truth was – and this they admitted only silently TO themselves, never out loud AMONGST themselves – the truth was, the woman was pretty damn smart. And she was very honest. She didn’t lie. Not her thing.
There was talk about her marriages, of course. She’d had a run of bad luck, to be sure, BUT STILL.
One of the older women would put an end to the gossip session with a loud HURUMPH, pointing out that bad luck or no, when one husband dies, and another husband divorces you, and you have NOTHING of your own, NOTHING, the best way to survive – in this town at least – was to marry again.
What did you expect her to do? the grumpiest one would hiss. And she’d fix her eyes on the younger women and snort, And YOU? You would do differently? Bah! There’d be another HURUMPH, and the conversation would end. For the moment.
The townsfolk knew the woman's mind, because she often spoke it. They did not, however, know her heart.
But he did.
So when he saw her trudging to the well that day, like she had done countless times before, the God part of him used the man part of him to engage her in conversation. It was simple enough, really. He just asked for a drink of water.
“Will you give me a drink?”
It was a pretext, of course. He knew about her curious, sharp mind. He knew too about the heavy heart she shared with no man – or woman. The heart that held sorrow because of death, pain as a result of rejection and regret over her own mistakes. The heart that sometimes asked the mind
Is this all there is?
She answered him just as he knew she would: She answered his question with a question.
“You're a Jew and I'm a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?”
When he responded, “If you knew who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water,” her rational mind became fully engaged.
She put her water jug down with a thud. She was ON IT.
“YOU, sir,” she pointed out, hands on hips, “HAVE NOTHING TO DRAW WITH, and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?” (She made air quotes with her fingers when she said "living" for effect.)
She pushed harder:
“Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well?”
She looked him straight on. He smiled and he pushed back:
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,” he said gesturing towards the well, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst." He paused, then added, "The water I give becomes a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
What the? WHAT THE HELL WAS HE TALKING ABOUT?
There was a strange humming in her ears as she rolled his words round and round in her mind, trying to understand. It felt like a riddle…but she couldn’t think how to solve it.
Better to just cut to the chase she decided; and so she said, bluntly: “Give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
But he – he was here for her heart. So he pushed again. He pushed one more time.
“Go, call your husband and come back.”
And she – because she was always honest -- said abruptly: “I don’t have a husband.”
And NOW he could do what he REALLY came for.
He told her that He knew. Everything. About the deaths, the divorces, the man she was living with now. He knew too about her sorrow, her pain. The disappointments, the fears, the hopes laid aside...
She wasn’t afraid or unnerved. She was…fascinated. And unbelievably curious. She felt she wanted to sit at the well and talk to this strange, kind man forever. She didn’t want their time together to end, but she saw his companions approaching.
“I can see that you are a prophet,” she said in a rush, hoping to prolong the conversation, if only a little longer. “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Her words hung in the air.
She didn’t expect it, his answer. He said the time was coming – the time was here! – when God would not be worshiped on the mountain or in Jerusalem. He said that God was Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.
Truth, he had said.
And suddenly she “knew” it. She knew who and what he was. But she needed him to say it.
With her heart pounding and her spirit lifting with something like exaltation, she pushed her last push, to see what he would say:
“I know that Messiah is coming,” she said, searching his face. “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
And He said it aloud. He said out loud what was singing throughout her entire being:
“I am he.”
She left her water jug and raced back to town. And because she was smart, and often spoke her mind, and always told the truth…
The townspeople believed 5 Times Woman. They believed her when she said she had found the Messiah.
They invited Him to stay with them awhile, and He did. Then they believed Him.
If you are trudging to the well today, your mind sharp but your heart a little heavy…
Remember Who waits for you at the well.
And He knows. About everything. He wants to help.
So YOU be like 5 Times Woman. Look Him in the eye and talk to Him. Push. Ask questions. And then listen to Him.
And when it’s done, when you’ve found your answer, or made your connection, or found your peace, You know what to do next, right?
Run into town and tell the others.