John4: 5-42

Lenten violet and white papel picado flutter overhead,
the bougainvillea blooms sprawl
over the crisp white tablecloths,
altars beneath the warming Oaxacan sun.

Come, be refreshed. Offer up your cup
from stall to stall, a feast amidst fast
for stranger or friend, all receive refreshment:
Agua frescas, jamaica, tamarindo, chilacoyata, horchatas,
tejate brimming from clay bowls
on the Dia de la Samaritana.
The Pacific air is redolent and vibrant
with chocolate, sugar,
sunlight and music.

Remembering the heat of another noonday sun,
in Samaria, scorned for its mongrel faith,
sprawled between the boundaries
   of Jerusalem’s industrialized religion
   and Galilee with its olives and figs,
      crocus and anemone,
      cyclamen nodding from rocky crevices.
His face was turned toward home.

He did not seek more contention
or midnight visitors brimming
with questions. He sought
a shortcut. The route
should have been along seashore or river bank,
but God so loved the world,
and the world begins
within the hostilities in Samaria,
beyond boundaries of belief,
or the scorn of gender
or judgment and prejudice.

Photina sought to retrieve her water
when the gossiping tongues remained at home,
the heat of the sun less bitter,
her footsteps slowing as she took in
the shimmering shape of the dusty traveler
seated despite the noonday heat.
Only her need overcame her wariness. But
despite all differences,
he did not judge her but loved her,
stripping away all the rumors that clung to her,
and seeing a disciple instead.

Through her refreshed perception
she was emboldened to witness;
by calling her to tend his humanity–
   his weariness, his thirst, his hunger,
and seeing hers–
the disillusionment, the contempt she bore
even among her kindred, the
burden of abandonment and scorn
but also the strength of mind and heart to dare.
His words provoke and promise,
testimony received and boldly proclaimed
to her and to us.

Nicodemus saw he was from God,
but Photina saw he was Savior.

Come, be refreshed.
Let down your bucket within your heart
to receive the living water of joy,
faith and hope–
   a wellspring of witness.

Come be refreshed and restored,
stranger or friend,
by the love that was always within you
from the Maker’s handiwork
and seal upon your soul.

It is only those who have need of Jesus
   who hear the hope of the invitation,
who receive the offered cup of fresh water
of God’s kingdom.

Image: The Woman of Samaria at the Well (La Samaritaine à la fontaine), James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum

Note: the Oaxacan festival of the Dia de la Samaritana will be March 17 this year.

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