As the rooster crowed, her eyes popped open. She sighed to herself – another day. As she glanced over at the man beside her, she winced. Or was it a smile? She could never be sure. And so the thoughts came, those same questions that plagued her on a daily basis:
“Am I happy?”
“Is this all there really is?”
"What am I doing here?”
As she dressed herself for the day she shook her head, as though shaking away the thoughts. It was time to get on with life; there was work to be done. None of the other men had made her happy, and this one probably wasn’t any different. Maybe it was her? Or maybe there just isn’t any happiness in this life?
She scurried about the kitchen, baking bread and preparing food for the day. Next it was off to feed the chickens and then run a few errands in town.
She hated going to town. Everyone always looked at her with eyes full of judgment. They still put on their fake smiles and offered up lackadaisical small talk. She was a customer after all. But she knew what they really thought of her. Word of her promiscuity had spread like wildfire, and some of the men had even begun to proposition her. Heat filled her face as she remembered time and time again trying to defend herself and explain that she wasn’t interested in just anyone or the idea of selling herself.
“Those jerks,” she thought as she stifled her indignant tears. “I’m a human being, too, and I deserve a little respect.”
Again she shook away her burdens and grabbed her jars to fill at the well along the main road entering town.
As she began to fill her jars, she noticed a group of men coming from the east.
“Oh great,” she mused, “This is the last thing I need today. Just avoid eye contact and leave as fast as possible.”
She began filling the jars with greater urgency as the men approached, looking intently at the task before her.
One man sat on the side of the well across from her while the others continued into town as if pursuing some errand. Head down, she glanced at the man sitting. He was of average height, average looking, but weathered, perhaps from travel or his line of business?
“Will you give me a drink?”
The woman looked up, aghast. Was he talking to her? What should she do?
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” she replied, feeling her face flush.
The man replied, “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. 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.”
“Living water?” she thought. “Never thirst again?” This all sounded too good to be true. But she certainly wouldn’t mind one less task on her to-do list.
She replied, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
The man told her to go get her husband, and when she replied that she wasn’t married, he proceeded to recount every lover she’d ever taken. But as she looked up at the man, she realized that his eyes weren’t filled with disdain or judgment like those in the village. This man looked at her with kindness and a gentle disappointment. Who was this man?
Their conversation continued, shifting to the topic of spiritual matters and the revelation of God. She acknowledged that she and her people, like the Jews, were waiting for the coming of the Messiah to reveal all things.
“I, the one speaking to you – I am he,” the man said.
She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. This man was the Messiah? The Christ had come? It made sense. His presence was so different, and he knew everything about her though they’d only just met.
Quickly she got up, leaving her jars behind, and ran into town, passing the men who had come with the Messiah. They glanced at her and looked at their leader, still sitting on the well, but none of them dared to ask what had happened or if he had spoken to the woman.
She raced into town shouting, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?”
As the people came out, wondering at the commotion, they followed her out to meet the man. And urging him to stay with them for a few days, many were convinced that he indeed was the Messiah, the Christ.
Finally, she realized, “This – this is the ‘more’ I was longing for. This is why I am here. The man, the Messiah, and his message… his kindness, his love, and the kingdom of God… This is the key to happiness.”
This is an adaptation of John 4:3-42