Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Jacob's Well

“Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon...” (John 4.4-6)

Jacob’s well is a thin place. Even after all these years, with the accretions of centuries, and the Eastern Orthodox monastery of Nablus built over it, the deep well is just as it would have been when Jesus met the unnamed Samaritan woman there over two thousand years ago. To stand there, beside the worn stones of the kerb, and watch as the icy cold, clear water is drawn up by bucket, is a strange experience. For an instant, the poky candlelit crypt seems to split apart, and the sunlit dusty hillside above the town is open again to their words:
‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’
‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’ (John 4.19-24)
The light in the Holy Land is extraordinary. Somehow it is more than just light. I looked through the photographs I took of that day, hoping to find one to illustrate this—but they don’t show the actinic quality that transforms time, threads the instants on a braid of isness, stretches the breath to hold truth between the rise and fall of one’s chest.

“...in the Spirit and in truth.”

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