Today’s gospel reading tells the story of the woman from Samaria. In it we hear a metaphor in which Jesus is said to be living water. Water is a wonderful image for interior spiritual movements for many reasons. For example, it captures the fluidity of God’s activity within or the stillness of peace. Since water is essential to life, understanding that God is our living water names a fundamental need for God.
Here I’m especially struck by the woman’s claim that the well is deep. Though she’s talking about the well the author of the gospel includes it because it also images her soul and the human soul. We as human beings are characterized by longing and have desires that are often too deep for us even to see. The soul is a deep place. It sounds as though the physical well the woman visited went down far such that if one lowers in the bucket only a little, no water. But with the right equipment, there is plenty to drink.
The soul is like that, too. Superficial desires don’t address our thirst: money, honor, many markers of traditional success. Even some relationships–like the woman’s five husbands-while important don’t go deeply enough. But way down there inside the human spirit there is water. And that water quenches our thirst, refreshes, sustains, and stills us. That water is Jesus, who is Living Water.
What’s the equipment? Prayer and patience—and a willingness to go into the depths of the well. There are many ways to pray but if we follow our thirst, God provides the water.