A Journey to the Well

This meditation may help you tell your faith story to God, to others, and to yourself. Return to this meditation as often as needed. You may want to discuss this experience with a spiritual director. It is adapted from page 50 in The Inner Compass by Margaret Silf (Loyola Press, 1999).

Center yourself by recalling a moment of gratitude, reciting a short mantra, or just focusing on your breath. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with her presence, her love.

Imagine a hot summer day. The heat is oppressive; the dryness is life-draining. You are in a dusty village, going about your daily chores. What are they? How do you go about doing them? Are you focused on the tasks at hand? Are you thinking about what needs to be done next?

Look around at your village. What is happening? What are the other people doing in the village? Do you interact with them? Do they interact with you?

It is time for you to go to a nearby well to fetch water. You grab a jug. What is it like? Is it coarse, chipped? Or is it finely polished, decorated with painting? It it heavy? Is it light? Try to imagine as many details about this jug as possible. How do you carry it? How does your body respond to it? Is it burdensome? 

Now, slowly read the following Scripture verse several times, until you feel at home with it:

Jesus had to go through Samaria. He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar. It was near the piece of land Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there. Jesus was tired from the journey. So he sat down by the well. It was about noon. (John 4:4-6)

You approach the well and see a man sitting there. Look closely at him. How is he dressed? Are his clothes clean and crisp, or dirty and ragged? What is he doing? Is he rubbing his feet or resting his eyes? Bring to mind as many details as you can, and pay attention to any feelings that well up in you as you do so.

What is your reaction at seeing him there? Resentment? Hope? Confusion? Indifference? Fear? What do your instincts tell you about this man?

Return to Scripture, reading the following verse until you feel at home with it:

A woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7)

Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well, c. 1420. Gold leaf, paint, and etching on glass. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Engage Jesus in conversation. This man knows you through and through; he knows every intimate detail about you. Let your conversation go wherever it goes; say whatever is on your mind and in your heart.  Pay attention to your body language as you talk with him. How does he respond? Pay attention to whatever emotions you feel during your conversation. Pay attention to his body language as well as his words. Let this conversation go on for as long as it needs to; there is no need to put on any limits or restraints.

When you have finished your conversation, read the following verse from Scripture, sitting with it until you are at home with it:

The woman left her water jar and went back to the town. . . . Many of the Samaritans from the town of Sychar believed in Jesus. They believed because of what the woman said about him. (John 4:28,39)

Imagine yourself returning to the village, to the place where you began. What is different in the way you walk? How does the village seem to you now after your encounter with Jesus? How do you react to the people you meet along the way? What will happen the next time you go to the well to draw water? Will it feel different? Will it feel the same? What difference has this encounter had on you?

Slowly return to your present surroundings and close with a simple Amen.