Their faces are like old dusty pictures frames in my heart. Rather than acknowledging that dust needs be swept away, I find it easier to swirl it around, making pictures with my fingertips. If hearts have eyes, my vision is most certainly clouded out by dirt particles.
"I'll go fill up the water jar." I pull back my mouth, our kiss ending. Dry throats come easy. Picking up the jug, I smile at him. "See you soon."
Stomach crying lunchtime, I approach the well. I must be seeing things, because there's a man sitting on it. Who does that? If I sat on a well, it'd be about four seconds before I fell into it.
And this well is deep. I should know.
Part of me wants to turn around and avoid confrontation, but the rest of me is just plain thirsty. This man better scoot.
I'm at the well, notice the weariness in the man's face. His eyes are tired. "Care to get me a drink?"
My gaze moves from his eyes. He's so obviously Jewish. Travelling through Samaria alone?
"I'm not sure if you noticed," I say, wondering if he'd ever get the hint and move over, "But I'm a Samaritan. You Jewish kind, you don't talk with me. Pretty sure that the two of us sharing a cup wouldn't go down too well, hey." Check out that pun. Get water from the well, go down well?
I'm waiting for realisation to sink in. Give him half a second and he'll be running for the hills of Galilee.
He doesn't move. Apparently, he already knows. Shifting position slightly, the weariness in his eyes contain something deep and holy. He looks at me. "If you knew the gift of God, and who I am, asking you for a drink... you would have asked me for a drink. I would have given you living water."
He definitely doesn't know how deep the well is. "You don't even have a bucket, remember? You need me to draw you a cup of water." I pause. Living water? "...Where do you get this living water?" Something rises in me. "Are you greater than our father, Jacob? He gave us this well, you know," I say. "He and his family and his animals, they all drank from it."
He's already speaking. "Everyone who drinks this water is going to be thirsty again." His focus hasn't shifted from me. "But whoever drinks the water that I give them? They'll never be thirsty again. This water I give them? When they drink it, it will become a spring of water in them, welling up to eternal life."
Now who is telling well puns?
I mull over his words. A spring of water? That would be referring to the source of the water. A source of water inside me? Not in the well, but... welling up to eternal life? What kind of lasting satisfaction does this man know about? Believe me, I've been seeking it for some time now.
I'd never have to come back to this well again. Never have to fill up the old jar. I'm nodding. "I like what you're saying. Give me this water, so I'll never be thirsty again or have to come here to draw water."
Instead of bringing out the jar of Living Water, the subject changes. "Go, get your husband and come back here."
"Actually," I say, ready with my practiced reply. "I'm not married."
Apparently, he sees through practiced replies. He stretches his arms. "I know. You'e actually had five husbands, but you're not married to the guy you're with now. You're telling the truth."
Flippin' flop. Wasn't expecting that. "You're obviously a prophet." Now would be a good time to make a statement about religion. "Our fathers worshipped on this mountain. But you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place we ought to worship."
His reply isn't what I was expecting. "Believe me, the hour is coming when it won't be on this mountain or in Jerusalem that you worship the Father. You worship what you don't know -- we Jews worship what we do know, for salvation comes from us. But the hour is coming -- actually, it is here -- when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth... for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him." He's nodding. "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
"The Messiah is coming," I tell him. "When he comes, he'll tell us everything." I'll admit it. I'm slightly terrified. True worshipers can't pretend to worship God while they're really worshipping themselves.
"I who speak to you am he."
I'm standing face to face with God. I'm looking into his eyes and it's not the weariness that is evident but the deep holiness permeating itself right into my soul.
God come to earth and he's asked me for a drink and I'm concerned with racial prejudice and God is sitting on the well and I put down my water jar.
God told me that if I asked, he would satisfy me. God told me that He would be a spring in me, a source of water than continually quenches my thirst and satisfies my soul -- a cleansing of the heart that wells into eternal life.
A whole bunch of guys rock up to the well. All Jews. Real Jews, these ones. They're all exchanging glances, wanting to know why their friend is talking to me.
Do they know that this is God?
No-one's saying anything. I ignore them, running in the direction they've just come, right into town. There's people milling about and they draw closer when they hear me. Me, of all people. "I was at the well, and a man there told me everything I ever did. Can this be the Christ?"
I ask it as a question. He's already told me it is so. The whole lot of us leave town and head to the well.
"What's going on, man?" I shake my head, looking questioningly at Thomas. "Seriously, Jesus. Eat."
Jesus is shaking his head. "I've got food to eat. Food you know nothing about."
Why the flip did you send us into that deflied Samaritan town if you've already got your food? I'll bet eleven others minds are voicing the same thought. We look at each other. "Did someone get him something to eat?" That lady with the worst relationship record since Solomon, perhaps?
From his place on the well, Jesus speaks. "Do you know what my food is? It's this: to do the will of my Father, who sent me, and to accomplish His work."
He is always so focused. His focus doesn't shift. Not like mine. My food went from a piece of pita bread to wanting a dozen fish.
He looks over each of us. "You look at a field and you say, 'Four months, then comes the harvest.' Look, guys! Lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest." He's directed our attention and what we see is a mass crowd moving forward. A crowd of Samaritans headed for the well. It's not even water collecting time.
Now that we see, Jesus continues. "Already the one who reaps is receiving wages, and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together." Pause. The people move closer. "Here, the saying holds true. 'One sows and another reaps'. I sent you to reap that for which you did not labour. Others have laboured and you have entered into their labour."
We're silent, his words sinking in. Others have laboured, and we have entered into their labour.
Others did all the hard work, others strove and toiled... and we've entered into their labour. Effortlessly.
God is meeting with us at the well. We ask him to stay with us. He stays two days. The people come to me and they say, "He's the Saviour of the world. The reason we know this isn't because you told us. It's because we've heard God for ourselves."
I left my water jar at the well.