visiting the well alone is the only way

When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin

(the original well used by Jacob, the famous Samaritan Well, currently located in the West Bank)

Every now and then, when it is most needed, God reminds us, well let’s make that He reminds me,
He is indeed still there and still in charge.

I don’t know about you but I have just felt so beat down as of late.

Wear a mask…
Don’t tell me to wear a mask…
Things are bad…
Things aren’t so bad…
Have school…
Don’t have school…
We hate Trump…
We love Trump.
Black lives matter…
No lives can matter…
Riots, looting, kneeling, anthems, flags…

Abortions, yes.
Abortions, no.

Hashtag (#) LGBTQ, transgender, asexual, bisexual, anything sexual…

Kill the Christians…
Hate the Jews…
Love everyone…but just don’t love those or those…

Watch the news.
Don’t watch the news.

Leave the house…
don’t leave the house…

It is simply overwhelming.

It is depressing, maddening, frustrating, and confusing.

I’ve told you before how great the series The Chosen is.
That crowd-funded production about the life of Christ.

It has brought the Gospels to life…to such a personal level…a real level.

The first season of episodes is out and now they are waiting to have
season two funded.

I cannot wait.

It is not a movie or a television show—it comes from an App or on the computer.

The final episode of season 1 is the tale of the Samaritan woman at the well.

First of all, I did not realize the significance of the well itself.
The well in the Book of John is the purported well of Jacob.
A seemingly dry site that Jacob knew would bear water…
God had led him to the sight.
God lead him here 730 years before the birth of Christ.
And it’s been bearing water ever since…
despite now being enshrined within an Orthodox Chruch.

I’ve read the Bible.
I’ve heard the stories.
I’ve seen various Biblical films and film productions about the life of Jesus—
none of which has moved me on such a deep and visceral level as this
story has as in The Chosen.

This Jesus…he is the one who I yearn to meet.
He is so real, so approachable…so unlike all previous depictions.

It also makes the various Biblical stories seem more relatable, more emotional,
more real.

Here is the Biblical story according to the NIV version from the Book of John:

Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more
disciples than John— although in fact, it was not Jesus who baptized,
but his disciples.
So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Now he 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.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?”
(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?”
(For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink,
you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep.
Where can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us the well and drank from it himself,
as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.
What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped 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 worshipers will worship the Father
in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.
When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.
But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people,
“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.
Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

John 4:1-30

If I could figure out how to share this particular episode from The Chosen here
on this blog, I would— but instead, I found on Youtube the added bonus feature from the episode
with the director and a Rabbi recounting the importance of this encounter between
a Jew and a Samaritan.
A man and a woman.
A Messiah and a broken soul.

The Chosen offers backstories to its characters.
They are an educated guess into what might have been…
based on what is known.
This is what makes these individuals so relatable…so much more so than the
stories from the Gospels.

The woman was scorned by her community for her lifestyle.
She was not welcome to visit the well in the cool morning hours with the other women of the
village…she had to go alone in the heat of the day.

She was a Samaritan…Jews considered this particular Jewish sect, a subgroup that was
less than…traitors of sorts.

Within her own community, she was an outcast living a depressing, empty
and sinful existence.

The deck was stacked against her when running into this Jewish man at the well.

Had she been with the other women, there would have never been the encounter.
She had to be alone.

Thus I realize that Jesus must come to us not when we are in the company of our friends
or surrounded by a crowd…he must come to us when we are alone, vulnerable,
and not distracted.
He needs our full attention.

It is to be a one on one encounter.

If you haven’t seen the episodes of The Chosen—I implore you to find them.
If you don’t know Jesus…if you find him sterile and benign, if you
mock him or simply disbelieve…watch just one episode…
I know you will view this Jesus of Nazareth much differently than ever before.


The visible reminder of Invisible Light.”

― T.S. Eliot

(Photograph: the oculous of the Pantheon / Rome, Italy / Julie Cook/ 2007)

In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.

(John 1:4,5,9 NIV)

It appears as if we have two contrasts again–seems to be the theme of the week–this time the contrasts are of Light and Dark.

Dark can be powerful as it tends to be a little scary and frightening. I tend to think of the things that hide in the dark. Must be a throw back to childhood and some traumatic moment… but the dark can certainly leave me rather unsettled. No, I don’t sleep with the lights on or anything like that but I do tend to be a bit weary when out at night. Dark also tends, to me, to feel heavy, like a big blanket that wants to envelop me….a little suffocating and claustrophobic.

On the other hand there is Light— the radiant brilliant light of day—a form of white that is almost blinding. It can be overwhelming and engulfing… but in a good way…a cleansing sort of way. It seems pure, sincere, real, honest. It too seems powerful, as if it can burn a hole right through me—searing away the impurities.

I unfortunately don’t have time today to elaborate on the making of the St. John Bible as I’m off to the airport for a quick trip to Chicago, but I’m including a link for you to click over and peruse the site yourself. The art work to me is a fine example of the use of light and of its very important role in not only art, but in the very being of who we are as created entities.

The St. John’s Bible is the first commissioned bible, to be completed by hand, since the invention of the printing press. As an art teacher, I have followed the progress of the Bible with great interest. The Royal Calligrapher, Donald Jackson, yes as in the Queen, was chosen to be the official artistic director. The work has been painstaking and laborious…having first started in 1988. The tools, the art, the paper, the inks, the paints…all natural and completed by hand…form the preparations of the vellum (a type of paper that is most translucent which is made from animal hide–it is stretched and sanded by hand to be the perfect receptor for the ink and paints), to the grinding of the paints and the application of the gold leaf. A beautiful work indeed!

One of my favorite images is from the cover page for the Gospel of John. The opening passage addresses the concept of “the very beginning” and what there was in the very beginning…and that was The Word—and then Life, and then Light…three powerful images (love the symbolism of three). How does one capture those powerful concepts with a visual image–how does one create a visual image of the utmost Divine…as a person who paints, I too have made attempts at trying to find a way to portray that very concept…only to fall painfully short.

But Donald Jackson has done a beautiful job portraying the Divine as Light—an illuminous ethereal figure emerging form the mix of a yet unsettled cosmos…the swirling mix of matter, power and energy—when suddenly a figure appears–a figure that is radiant and reflecting, shimmering in purity—not yet of solid matter…liquid, semi-solid… “Mary, do not touch me as I have yet ascended to my Father” (John 20:17)–it is a milla-moment of transformation–a time that encompasses incompletion…this is the moment prior, the time with Mary is the moment after….amazing….I am humbled and awed by this light. May you too feel its warm embrace….