Jesus and the Samaritan woman

Jesus left Judea and returned to Galilee when he learned that the Pharisees heard he was baptizing and making more disciples than John. Jesus himself did not baptize, only his disciples did. On his way he traveled to a town in Samaria called Sychar, which is near the piece of land that Jacob had bequeathed to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there and around 6 in the evening Jesus sat down near it because he was exhausted from his journey. A Samaritan woman came near to draw water from the well. Jesus asked her to give him a drink. His disciples had traveled ahead into town to buy food.

She replied “Why are you, a Jew, asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” Jews normally did not associate with Samaritans.

Jesus answered, “If you understood the gift of God, and who is asking you for a drink, you would be asking him, and he would give you living water.”

“Sir,” she said, “the well is deep and you don’t even have a bucket with you. How and where are you going to get this ‘living water’? You aren’t more powerful than Jacob, our father, are you? He is the one who gave us this well. He, his sons, and their livestock all drank from it.”

Jesus said “Anyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. But anyone who drinks the water I offer will never ever become thirsty again! In fact, the water I offer will become like a spring of water, flowing from within that person for eternal life.”

“Sir,” she said, “let me have some of this water so I won’t get thirsty and have to come all this way to draw water here again.”

“Go get your husband and come back here” he told her.

“I am unmarried,” she replied.

“You are correct in saying ‘I am unmarried,’ because you’ve been divorced five times and the man you are with now is not your husband. You have spoken the truth,” Jesus countered.

“Sir, it is obvious to me that you are a prophet,” the woman replied. “The Samaritans worshipped here on this mountain in years past, yet you Jews believe that Jerusalem is where people should worship.”

Jesus said “Believe me, the time is coming when you won’t need to worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you don’t know, while we Jews know what we worship, because salvation comes into the world through us. However, it is now the time when true worshippers will worship God in spirit and truth. God wants this kind of worship from us. Since God is spirit, God should be worshipped in spirit and truth.”

The Samaritan woman said “I know that the time is coming when the Messiah will arrive” (the One who is called Christ). “He will explain everything to us when he comes.”

“I am the One who is speaking to you.” Jesus told her.

His disciples arrived at this point and they were surprised he was talking with a woman. But none of them asked him what he wanted or why he was talking to her.

Then the Samaritan woman got up, left her water jar there, and went back to town. She told the men “Come with me and see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done! Is it possible this is the Messiah?” They left the town and went straight to where Jesus was.

Meanwhile, the disciples kept urging him to eat something. But he said “I have food that you are unaware of.” The disciples began to wonder among themselves, saying “Could someone else have brought him something?”

Jesus told them “My food is to do God’s will and to finish God’s work. Isn’t it common to say ‘There are four more months before the time for the harvest’? Listen clearly – raise your eyes and look at the fields – they are ripe for the harvest! Right now the reaper is being paid and gathering the harvest for eternal life, so those who sow and those who reap can celebrate together. Here the saying is true – ‘One sows the seed and another reaps the harvest.’ I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work for. Others have worked and you have benefitted from their work.”

Many people from the Samaritan town believed in Jesus because of the woman’s testimony when she said “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” Because of this, they asked him to stay with them when they came out to see him at the well. Jesus stayed there for two days. Many more people came to believe because of his word. Then they told the woman “We don’t believe just because of your testimony. We have heard him for ourselves and we know that he truly is the Savior of the world.”

JN 4:1-42

Flowers and vegetables

I buy my own flowers, and I cook my own vegetables. I have to. I need to.

I wanted my husband to buy me flowers and to cook more vegetables, but it didn’t happen. Rather than feel resentful, I decided to show love to myself. Every week when I go to the grocery store, I get fresh vegetables and some flowers. He benefits from these things, sure, but I’m the first recipient.

For years I told him that we needed to start eating more vegetables. Eating mostly meat isn’t healthy. We didn’t have to go to being vegetarian, but at least more like omnivores. And by vegetables I meant actual, fresh vegetables. Not ones from the freezer, and not ones that had been processed to a point that they were unrecognizable.

This was beyond him.

Preparing fresh vegetables takes 20 minutes, from chopping up to steaming, but every night we’d end up eating an hour after I came home at 8. That is way too late to eat. I still can’t figure out how he was wasting that much time.

What pushed it over the edge was when I hurt my back and my chiropractor said that I needed to eat a vegetarian diet for a week to reduce the inflammation. My spouse totally didn’t get it, and I became even angrier and angrier as my physical pain got worse and worse.

I felt helpless.

Food is a basic need, and eating healthy is important. I felt that he was not providing for me in the way that I needed. Deep down, I felt that he was not loving me in the way that I needed. This is part of why I decided to make learning how to cook my goal for this year.

While I’m glad to feel self sufficient, I’m a little sad that he isn’t able to take care of me in this basic way.

It isn’t like I needed him to make a six digit salary, and to buy me furs and diamonds. It isn’t like I needed him to work hard enough that I didn’t have to.

It sounds selfish, and sad, and empty, that in this basic way he can’t support me. It is food, and flowers.

But, in a good way, I’m glad that I decided to love myself in the way that I needed to be loved. Rather than feel empty and abandoned, I decided to take matters into my own hands. It is healing at the same time it is sad.

Somehow, while I’m building myself up, I’m separating from him. I’m getting stronger by not relying on him as much. It is scary in a way.

I don’t trust women who crow about their husbands all the time – about how awesome they are, how wonderful, how supportive. I don’t believe them. Everybody has a shadow side. No person is perfect. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for them to get really angry about how much of a slob he is, or how scatterbrained or thoughtless.

Who cares if you stay when the relationship is good? It is how you work out the hard stuff that matters.

Our island – supper as a haven.

When my husband and I have supper together at the dinner table, I like to think of it as our island. It is our special place where it is just him and me. We don’t talk about work or family or troubles. Our island is just for happy things.

These days it is especially important to have a moment of calm. These days there’s a new rule – no dead people on the island. There’s too much going on about his Mom’s memorial service, the estate, and family drama. Because of this, we have started having dinner at the table more often.

It is like a sabbatical in the middle of chaos. It is like a holiday in the middle of the week. It restores us and resets us.

At a minimum, I want us to eat at the table once a week, on Friday evening. Anything extra is good too. Previously we would sit in the living room and watch television. We don’t watch broadcast television. We have DVDs of television series or movies. Sometimes it takes several evenings to watch a complete episode. But while we are eating in there, we’re not really spending time with each other. We’re not building up our own relationship.

Through this new experience we are learning how to re-create ourselves as people and as a couple. In fact, after the dinner prayer last night my husband added something to the prayer. He prayed that we not allow drama with family to get in between us. That is unusual for him to add something to the prayer, and it is a beautiful thing for him to add. It is a good reminder that we chose each other. We didn’t choose our family. If our family is being difficult then we don’t have to allow them on our island.

Finding home without a map.

We had a dog when I was growing up who was named Chumley. My brother picked him out, and my brother named him. Somehow, though, the dog ended up becoming my dog, and not in the good way. Somehow I, the younger sister, ended up having to make sure the dog was fed and watered and walked. This turned out to be a regular occurrence with my brother and pets. He’d get them, and then I’d have to take care of them. Perhaps this is part of where I learned to be a caretaker of others and not myself. But this is not that story.

This story is about a time where Chumley ran away. Most dogs know how to stay in the yard, but not Chumley. That dog was a wire haired fox terrier, and they aren’t really mentally intact dogs. Those dogs are a bit high strung and wild. They really aren’t the best around small children, and sometimes I think they really aren’t the best around themselves. They get a bit excitable all the time and kind of lose their minds.

Chumley was an inside dog in the biggest possible way. If we let him out without a leash he’d just run and run and run. Even with a leash it was hard. He was always straining at the leash, pulling me along, nearly choking himself to get to the next place. He made a hoarse, desperate sound all the time as he pulled ahead. The walk was a real workout for my shoulder muscles and not really very fun. I suspect it wasn’t very fun for him either.

He was so scattered that he even had to poop inside. We had newspapers in the kitchen, and that is where he would go. I can’t even imagine how I thought that was normal, to have food and crap and pee in the same room. It was what was introduced to me as normal, though, so I went with it. I didn’t know otherwise.

One time, before Christmas, he got out. He slipped out of the front door and went running. He kept running. Before we even realized it he was gone gone gone.

Days went by.

It was getting colder. It wasn’t too cold, because it was Chattanooga, and white Christmases are really rare. Brown with mud was more like it. But it was cold-ish, and this dog wasn’t an outside dog, and how was he eating and getting water? What was happening to him? Was he OK? Was he dead? There was no way he could have defended himself against another dog. He was like the clown of the circus.

Maybe we looked for him. Maybe we didn’t. I don’t remember. I hope we did. I could tell you that we put out an all points bulletin and stapled “Lost Dog” flyers on telephone poles, but I’d be lying. I don’t know if we even got in the car and drove around, calling out his name.

Maybe we just thought he wanted out.

I can understand that. I can empathize with that.

He didn’t choose to be there. He wanted to be out. He wanted to eat grass and poop outside and sniff other dog’s butts. He wanted to roll in mud puddles.

He wanted to be a dog.

And we weren’t letting him.

So, he was gone, for days.

Just about the time that we thought he must be dead (at worst) or adopted by another family (at best), he came back.

But he didn’t come back alone. There was this other dog with him. There was this smallish mutt beside him. Some dog that we’d never seen.

I played all over that neighborhood, and I knew every dog within a three mile radius of my house. I didn’t know this dog.

Somehow, this dog, this strange dog, had found Chumley and brought him back home.

I have no idea how he knew where Chumley’s home was. I have no idea how they communicated. All I know was that it was three days later and Chumley was dirty and tired and his feet were bloody from all that running outside, but he was home.

And I understand some of it now.

Sometimes I’m Chumley, and sometimes I’m the mutt. Sometimes my husband is Chumley, and sometimes he is the mutt. Sometimes we have to take turns walking each other home.

And sometimes home isn’t where we feel at home, but we stay there anyway. And sometimes “home” is more about the places in our heads and our hearts, rather than where we sleep and keep our stuff.

And sometimes all we want to do is run away as far as possible.

Sometimes I don’t feel at home in my self, my being, my “me”. Sometimes all I want to do is run away.

Sometimes I go up to my star stones. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I take a hot bath. Sometimes it is so bad that I have to do all three.

Sometimes I’m so upset and angry that I’m on fire and I don’t even realize it.

Sometimes the person I want to run away from is my husband.

Sometimes I want him to fix this fire burning in me, to put it out, to stomp on it and then call for a firetruck. Sometimes I want him to know what to do, what to say, how to stand just right that this fire will die down to a pretty little candle, contained in a glass dish. Something simple. Something safe. Something easy.

Sometimes I’m embarrassed at the bonfire of my emotions and feelings and I’m on fire and all I want to do is light up everything around me and leave it all a charred, smoking hulk of rubble for the forensics team to walk through and try to figure out what happened two days later when it cools down enough to be safe to pick through the pieces.

And then it turns. It changes.

I’ll have been gone for three days, or three minutes, or three hours. No matter how long, I’ve been right here, but I’ve been gone in my hurt and anger and loss and pain.

And somehow he finds me, and brings me back home.

List – on grocery lists and dating my husband.

I just sent an email to my husband. Please pick up bananas, organic instant oatmeal, Amy’s frozen dinners, and some “Naked” fruit juice. I send him a lot of emails like this. Publix is on his way home, and today he will get out of work three hours before I do. By the time I get off there is just enough time to drive home, eat, and then it is time to get ready for bed.

Then I thought this is not healthy. If all I send him are grocery lists, I’m not going to see him as anything other than a grocery list getter. I didn’t send him grocery lists when we were dating. What about being married for almost ten years has made me change my message to him from sweet little love notes to shopping lists?

I think it is important to remember to date my husband. All the things I did to get him should be all the things I do to keep him.

Recently I’ve decided to have a special dinner with him once a week. Usually he cooks. Usually I get home so late that it isn’t feasible for me to cook. I also wasn’t taught how to cook when I was growing up so a lot about cooking frustrates me. It always feels like I’m hurtling down the hill on my bike and the brakes don’t work. I always feel like things are cooking at different rates and nothing is going to come out on time at the right temperature. Who cares if the salmon is hot if the mashed potatoes are cold?

But I’ve decided it is time to learn. I’m not going to get better at cooking unless I try. So I’m starting with things I know. So once a week, on Fridays, (my day off) I go to the grocery store and pick fresh vegetables and some seafood. Nothing frozen, nothing packaged. I cook it, and we use the nice plates. We light candles. We turn off the lights. More importantly we turn off the TV. Just my husband and me, at the dinner table, enjoying a meal and each other’s company.

It is great. I don’t know why we haven’t done this before now. I know I’ve thought about it. I’ve always managed to come up with an excuse. I’m tired. It is raining. My back hurts. I’m overwhelmed. They are just different ways of saying I don’t want to, not really. You’ll either find a way or you’ll find an excuse, they say.

It all started on Thanksgiving. There was too much drama going on with the in-laws so it made more sense to stay home. We used the dinner table for the first time in years for something other than a desk.

I decided now was the time to keep this going. No backing out now. Any tradition has to start somewhere, and now was as good a time as any. So something good is going to come out of something not so great. But there are always snags on the way to happiness.

Last Friday it was raining. It was cold. Going to the grocery store was the last thing I wanted to do. But I did. I did because I love him. I did it to show that I love him. I can say it all the time but it doesn’t mean anything unless I make it real.

Maybe something as easy as taking the time to take the time is the secret. Maybe slogging out in the cold rain to make a hot meal is really the secret to everything.

Snake Handler 5 (husband)

My husband is proof to me that God keeps promises. He is also proof that God has a sense of humor.

When I was living in Northern Virginia one summer, I prayed to God and asked to see who it was I was going to marry. In a flash, I saw him. Eyes closed, face turned upwards to the sun. Angular cheeks, and shoulder length curly blonde hair.

Blonde hair? I like redheads?! What gives, God? No answer. At least not then.

I drew the picture and saved it. Years went by.

My parents died, I graduated college, I became a manager at a store, I sold my house, and moved to Nashville. I did a lot of living in that time, and no husband.

I prayed again. Hey, God, what’s up with that husband thing?

God said “The work you have to do in this world you can’t do with a husband.”

OK. Totally not cool. This makes no sense. First you show me my husband, then you tell me I’m not going to have a husband.

But God never lies. God is very careful about what words are used, however.

I came to some sort of acceptance of this. I’d created my life in such a way that I didn’t need a husband. It would be nice to have a helper, a best friend, someone who loves me no matter what. Someone to do laundry, you know?

But it isn’t my will, but God’s will that matters. Part of the long wait was about me coming to fully accept that.

A few years later I was getting ready for work. I wasn’t even praying this time. As I stepped into the shower, I heard God say “Wait.”

I knew immediately what the subject was. Wait. You will meet your husband soon.

I said “Wait? You said never!”

God just laughed.

Two weeks later Scott came into the library where I work. I recognized him instantly.

Well, I thought he was Dougal the Red Giant.

He had been visiting his friend Steve and for the first time decided to turn left out of the apartment complex rather than his usual right. Within a block he saw the library. Curious, he pulled in and went inside. I happened to be at the front desk and saw him.

Same cheekbones. With red hair.

He looked very familiar, but I thought he was a friend from a medieval reenactment group I was in. I said “Dougal the Red Giant!” surprised that he was here because he didn’t live in this town. Scott sort of half heard me. As he got closer, I realized he wasn’t Dougal. I went red in the face. We started talking.

Our first date was him helping me move into my new house that I’d bought, having given up on waiting for a husband.

I told him about the story and showed him the picture. Turns out, when I drew that picture, his hair was blonde. It started to turn red about that time.

So what about the “The work you have to do in this world you can’t do with a husband”?

God didn’t say “unmarried”. I’m married, but the work I do for God isn’t done with Scott.