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I thought I had her all wrapped up, the woman at the well, the Samaritan who comes to an extraordinary well for regular old water and finds out about a water called living. You may know the story in John 4 where she drinks of this mysterious water with no utensil known to human kind there in that loop of strangeness between two souls, also known as an experience of pure love. Sunday morning, she spoke to us in that giant, open space of creaky pine floors circa 1889 sanctuary where less than the 200 intended recipients heard from her (much less.) Still, we were authentically gathered and that is such a rare thing. This morning, like a holy backlash, she came at me again.
Something about wonder, the wonder of you, this is what he, the one she recognized as a prophet, kept pointing out, the wonder in those he encountered, it’s so hard for us to see it in ourselves, it has to be pointed out by someone who has found living water, someone who knows the way there.
Like the Samaritan woman, we may have looked for that sparkling wonder in so many other places or people or things. She did, in five husbands and one lover and in a small town, no less. You know what happens to women in small towns who have married five men and kept one lover…..scandalous, she’s a home wrecker, no good for anything or anyone. We still claim her, yes, she’s one of us, always will be, but we won’t invite her into our homes, we will just freeze her there in time as an unchangeable disaster and that is what will be carved on her tombstone at the edge of the town cemetery, she will never outlive her own failures. Yet, Jesus calls her wonderful, and that is what will be carved on her heart, granite is so unforgiving.
It is this woman who gets to meet the man who calls her worthy, valuable, even wonderful. It wasn’t so much that she believed in him, it was more so that she believed in what was happening in her because of him. She believed, all of the sudden, in the wonder of her. For she had scraped up and saved in her heart a tiny sliver of intuition, locked it away there and protected it fiercely in hopes of a day when someone would offer her a gift that didn’t cost her things like sex and dignity. She lived close to that thirst, that hurt, that longing, that hope, it was all the same thing. She was looking for the right man to spend it on and when he said the word “gift” it turned the key inside of her heart and what flowed out was wonder.
This cosmic event of living water changed her entire chemistry, she glowed, it was the alchemy of Heaven. She knew she was glowing for she had met her wonder and she went out and told everyone, “come meet this man who has told me everything about my life and has claimed the disaster for pure wonder.” It’s not magic, it’s a gift, how rare, she knew it in her heart.
She went out and told everyone, the town disaster, the outcast, and what is spectacular is that they listened and followed her. That’s how wonder works when you begin to grasp it. It compels you to acts of solidarity with the love inside of you. You finally understand what it means to love yourself for you have met God there, inside, in the heart and your only response is pure wonder and wonder is contagious. It makes you simply want to give up all the other substitutes.
This morning, she just wouldn’t let me go without compelling me to tell you about the wonder of you.