In the infancy of Jesus’ ministry a Pharisee by the name of, Nicodemus, seeks Jesus out in the middle of the night.
It is important to note that in John’s gospel there is no question in that God’s kingdom and the Child of Humanity are fully present; it is this, “Child of Humanity,” that is awakened in Jesus and it is the Holy Spirit which speaks through Jesus. This is clarified by Jesus as he tells his listeners that the words he speaks are not his own, but are from the Father.
In the exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus, in John 3, Nicodemus recognizes that God presence in Jesus, as Jesus talks about being “born from above” and says that the seeker must be born of water and the Spirit in order to “see” the things of the kingdom. Water, as it is being used here, represents the Wisdom of the Divine – God Wisdom, as found in the unconscious. If looked at metaphorically, it is this God Wisdom, also, that the Israelites are symbolically seeking as a guide through the wilderness when they insist on Moses leading them to “water.” We need water to survive in the wilderness, and we need God’s guidance while in the spiritual wilderness of the unconscious, living on faith, hope and love while moving towards a new understanding of self. It is no wonder that the first six chapters of John have water in some form or another involved in the story. We are symbolically submersed in the Waters of Life and the Mystery of the Unconscious during the Christian sacrament of baptism and raised to new life, as if from the dead, to see the heart of the New Being.
An early church theologian, Origen of Alexandria, believed it was impossible for God to communicate with the physical human being directly because God is Spirit. However, the mind of humans, he reasoned, was ethereal; so it is in the mind, or the unconscious mind, of humans that God’s ethereal Spirit can impress upon the human mind certain metaphysical truths.
Now, when we think about the image of the Christ calming the stormy seas, or troubled waters of the unconscious, or when we may see Christ imaged in stories of Jesus walking on the water or subduing the angst in our subconscious mind, we may reimagine what it means to emerge from the waters of baptism as if one is resurrected.
The question becomes, for those of us in the wilderness suffering from a loss of direction and looking for some kind of foot hold on reality is, “Where can we get a drink?” Just as water may be found in certain places in the wilderness, and especially a very dry one, so too the wisdom of God, though everywhere, can be better found in certain places. Yes, God reveals God’s self in the entirety of every moment, but also in the written word that is proclaimed sacred by the traditions concerning God. There is water in the written sacred word and in the oral sacred word that is passed down through those voices of the sages of every religious tradition that have truly come in the name of the Holy One.
This is where we find the Samaritan Woman, a spiritual seeker, exploring for water in the tradition of the Samaritans that is called in John’s gospel, “Jacob’s Well.” Maurice Nicoll points out very well the wilderness like qualities the woman at the well of Jacob experiences in his little and valuable book, the New Man and I am influenced by it when thinking of this parable.
Jesus says, “Many are called. Few are chosen.” He means that out of all of us who start off excited about loving God and learning more about our relationship with God, very few proceed past the casual observer point. Those few who do are sometimes alone, suffering from the heat of one’s journey and just can’t get enough to drink. Something in the water makes us want more, or maybe it is something missing from the water that keeps us thirsty. Maybe the something we are missing is in the water but we just haven’t been able to “ingest it.”
The Samaritan woman is like all of us who delve deep into our traditions and see something very powerful emerging. So powerful in fact that our lives have been turned upside down, the stones of the “temple” that had upheld one’s view of reality have been thrown down and all that remains is one’s faith, hope in, and love of the Ultimate Mystery we call, God. This is a very personal space in our journey as worldly wisdom will no longer do and must be replaced by, Sophia/Logos, God’s creative Wisdom. We thirst in the wilderness and it is from a stone that the water flows; the Samaritan woman thirsts in the wilderness as she takes an empty bucket to cast deep into the sacred waters/writings of her tradition, the Well of Jacob surrounded by stone.
John 6:63; “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
More to come…
More on the Samaritan Seeker
Jesus says in the beginning of the Gospel of Thomas, “Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.”
The Samaritan woman could hardly be a more humble rejection of the usual portrayal of worshipers who gather together, assuring each other that their beliefs and creeds are the only correct ones. She is not so sure, and she, in fact, is a woman who isn’t even allowed to enter the deepest recesses of her tradition as could a man. Sometimes the traditions are guilty of keeping their believers from opening their minds to the Mystery inherent in their sacred writings because they unconsciously know that the Truth transcends the tradition; It has to, as Jesus reminds us that even if heaven and earth pass away with all the traditions, the Word/Sophia will not. To those in the traditions who, because of their own fear, try to solidify in stone a vision of the Divine Jesus says, “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
The Samaritan woman is alone in a spiritual dimension that very few within our traditions are capable of accompanying her in. She has left the crowd and is alone. Deep in prayer and meditation she reaches into the well of her tradition, its sacred writings of which the spiritual meaning is surrounded by stones, with her empty bucket and discovers its “Living Water,” the Water of Creative Consciousness. The “Word” is there for her. What is that saying?… “When the seeker is ready, the Master will appear…?”
As a message of faith and hope, born of sacred love, we may see ourselves, at least in some parts of the Samaritan woman’s journey into the well of Jacob. We know intuitively there is something within our sacred writings that moves us and is “alive.” There is such a crowd around this, “something,” all saying, “Look here,” or “Look there,” that the only way left for us to go forward is to shut out the noise and seek within to allow the Source of the Crisis to speak to us personally – the Child of Humanity within.
At the heart of this story of the thirsty seeker, is the driving force behind it all that we dare not forget; it is God’s love for the world. Remember the, “God so loved the world,” saying in the beginning days of Jesus’ ministry? We are reminded of this love when the Christ tells the Samaritan woman, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.” What is worship if not “love?”
We are compelled to discover true life through love; love for life, love for each other, and love of self that evolves into something much bigger and deeper than the self we first started to love. This love has made us extremely thirsty, as if in the midst of a hot summer day, for a drink directly from the Source that gives life and meaning to all traditions, and reveals to us our completed self, our real identity and all that we ever did.
Every teaching of the Christ has at its heart the Great Command to love God and Neighbor with our whole being; it is the template upon which Jesus’ life is hung. Upon her new, “awakening,” her meeting with the Incarnate Word at Jacob’s Well, the Samaritan woman is overjoyed and runs off to inform those in her “village,” so that other believers in God may be blessed with seeing for themselves. This is because of her love and compassion for others, for the benefit of the kin-dom that she does this. Also, there always seems to be some kind of call to action with each Divine encounter as concerns the expression of God’s will towards justice and equity for all. For those who encounter the Sacred, God’s work is never done, as God’s love needs always to be expressed so that others may dare to worship the Mystery we call, “God,” in Spirit and Truth; the One who reveals to us the Child of Humanity within. We are to be a dwelling place for the love of God.
Peace be with you. Pastor Bob