Tuesday, April 28, 2009

At Jacob's Well

This is the most beautiful thing I've read in a very long time. Needless to say, it comforts me.

At Jacob's Well

Here's what I want to know about the woman
carrying her water-jar to Jacob's well
outside the town of Sychar, in Samaria:
what charms, what freshness bubbled up
from which corner of her heart, and made her the oasis
that she was? Five husbands and a lover
come one by one to slake their thirst in her,
and still some water-truce holds in Sychar, protects
this frank green spring from all polluting shame;
and now another thirsty man, this foreigner,
sits asking, and again her charms bubble up
like the water, like her questions. Could that be
what enchants them all, her way of asking
straight to the heart of things? And did she know,
before he spoke, how long her heart had thirsted
to be answered the same way? Hear the dance
of their talk, these strangers, as they sit together
on the path to Jacob's well, speak in circles
around the deep water: thirst and drinking,
husbands and lovers, mountain and temple,
Spirit and truth--askings and answers
bowing in, leaning back, swayed and spun
to the beat of two hidden drums. Here's what
I wonder about the woman, dancing back now
to the village, her water-jar left behind
for him to drink from: did she notice
what the disciples half-saw, how deep he had drunk
from their talk, from their dance? See the gleam
in his dark eyes, like sunlight sparking deep
on well-water; see his toes tap inside dusty sandals
in time to the dancer's steps; now see him rise
and laugh, shake his head, rinsed by her charms,
sated by her questions, enchanted by her thirsty
generous heart, a vessel after his own heart,
a dancer who matches his own steps in the dance
of ask and answer, of Spirit courting soul.

--Elizabeth A. Nelson

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