I have been very silent over the past week and intentionally so. My encounter with the Word on Sunday in my reading of John 4 -- the story of the Woman at the Well has left me feeling restless. I captured what I thought was the essence of my encounter, of my experience, and as I did that I felt that God was trying to say more to me than I initially heard.
To jog your memory, my Word from Sunday's gospel lesson was John 4:28, "Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city." I first connected this Word to my recent experience in watching my daughter pack up all her stuff, load it into a U-Haul and confidently drive away and sensed that God was trying to comfort me in my distress at witnessing my daughter leave the nest. I believe that to still be the case; however, there's more.
There's this lingering question regarding this story and here it is, "What would make a woman leave what is very likely her most valuable possession?" This woman left her water jar -- the one thing she needs to maintain the life of the members of her household. Without water, people perish. And yet, this woman leaves her water jar. Did she intend to go back and get it after sharing her encounter with her family and the people in her city? Or did she intend to get another one -- maybe one that better represents who she really is at the moment? For some reason John, the writer of this gospel, did not give us any insight into what the woman did with her jar only that she left it. What John wrote is as important as what he did not write and so that is the place where I am drawn -- deeply drawn. And, my friends, as I have been deeply drawn into this place in the story of what was left unsaid, I have had to open myself up before God, before the Spirit of God -- to become wide open and awake, available -- in order to hear the Word God seems to want to give me. And so I have been silent and still for almost a week holding this Word and waiting on another Word.
It seems God has me remembering my primary call to be a mother -- and not just a biological mother but a spiritual mother, more akin to a spiritual director for my children. I couldn't name it as such at the time because I had no knowing of what a spiritual director was. Now that I am in training to be a spiritual director, I can name what God was asking me to do for my children. I took that primary call very seriously -- with all three of my children. Which brings me to the real heart of the matter, I think, of what God is trying to say to me -- Can I put down my primary call and will I?
Why would God ask me to do such a thing?! Perhaps because there is a season for everything under the sun. Perhaps because God has something else in store. Perhaps because God is giving me another primary call. I think all of those statements are true. A statement from a dear friend whom I am companioning as he learns to live his life after the death of his beloved wife keeps bubbling up. He said to me, "It's like I'm letting go and holding on at the same time. I'm letting her go physically, but holding on to her through remembering -- through my memories of her." There's tension there and I know God is at work there.
And so, my friends, just as the woman left her jar at the well, I leave my primary call -- that of a mother to my three children at the well. In doing so, I feel such grief and vulnerability. I do not really know myself other than that of mother to my three children. My heart hurts and this is not easy but Christ offers to me his Living Water, I have drunk of that water faithfully for many years and trust that abundant life flows out of that Living Water. There is still within me a deep yearning -- a longing -- to nurture the faith but I think it is not for my children but for God's children. And so I will wait and trust but most importantly, I will let God hold my heart as only he can do.
Lent for me seems to be still captured in Bruggemann's orientation, disorientation and new orientation and it makes sense that I would experience deep healing, grief and vulnerability but I know I can also expect God to birth something new.
My friends, what is God calling you to leave at the well in this season of Lent? How will you respond? My prayer is that you will do as God asks so that when the day of Resurrection comes around (and I know it will!), you will experience a new orientation -- the birth of something new in your life!