Lent 3: A Well-Blessed Woman

Well Blessed © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Lent 3 (March 27): John 4.5-42

With this week’s Gospel passage, the lectionary continues to trace a watery way through the wilderness of Lent, calling us to be mindful of God’s provision even in the desert places. This text fairly drenches us as it draws us into the story of the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus while making her daily visit to the well—Jacob’s well, as both the narrator and the woman point out; the well established by a man who knew about meeting God in the midst of one’s journey.

The encounter between Jesus and the unnamed woman offers something of an icon of the Lenten season and the invitation it extends to us. If we give ourselves to a daily practice, if we keep taking our vessel to the source even when we feel uninspired or the well seems empty or the journey is boring, if we walk with an openness to what might be waiting for us in the repetition and rhythm of our routines, we may suddenly find ourselves swimming in the grace and love of God that goes deeper than we ever imagined.

In his Gospel, John did not record the name of this woman who became the first evangelist. The Eastern Orthodox tradition, however, filled in that gap, naming her Photini or Photina (meaning “the enlightened one” or “resplendent”) and also designating her an apostle and a saint. For more about Saint Photini, visit Suzanne Guthrie’s reflection “The Well of Love” at her lovely blog Come to the Garden.

I have lingered at the well with the Samaritan woman and Jesus on another occasion and invite you to stop by Lent 3: The Way of Water for that reflection. As you travel through this season, what are you finding in the midst of your daily rhythms and routines? Are your habits and practices drawing you closer to the sustenance you need or pulling you farther away from it? What are you thirsty for?

As you continue on your Lenten way, here is a new blessing for the next leg of your journey. Peace to you.

Blessing of the Well

If you stand
at the edge
of this blessing
and call down
into it,
you will hear
your words
return to you.

If you lean in
and listen close,
you will hear
this blessing
give the story
of your life
back to you.

Quiet your voice
quiet your judgment
quiet the way
you always tell
your story
to yourself.

Quiet all these
and you will hear
the whole of it
and the hollows of it:
the spaces
in the telling,
the gaps
where you hesitate
to go.

Sit at the rim
of this blessing.
Press your ear
to its lip,
its sides,
its curves
that were carved out
long ago
by those whose thirst
drove them deep,
those who dug
into the layers
with only their hands
and hope.

Rest yourself
beside this blessing
and you will
begin to hear
the sound of water
entering the gaps.

Still yourself
and you will feel it
rising up within you,
filling every hollow,
springing forth

[To use the “Well Blessed” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]

Resources for the season: Looking toward Lent

Blogging also at Sanctuary of Women during Lent…

6 Responses to “Lent 3: A Well-Blessed Woman”

  1. ammaguthrie Says:

    Hey, thank you so much! And thank you for your amazing blog and your art! What a blessing! -suzanne

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Suzanne! What a treat to hear from you. I love the sacred spaces you have created on the Web, and your books Grace’s Window and Praying the Hours are treasures that I have often returned to. Many blessings to you in these Lenten days and in the seasons to come.

  2. Maureen Says:

    Your poem, Jan, is marvelous.

  3. christine hoffman Says:

    I so enjoyed this, Jan and Suzanne Guthrie’s ‘The Well of Love.’ I’d no idea about Saint Photini. Thank you. Your inspiration is now flowing into my sermon writing on the Exodus lectionary

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Christine! Saint Photini is newly introduced to me as well—glad to make her acquaintance at long last. Hope your sermon-crafting went well—I would love to hear you preach sometime! Blessings in these Lenten days.

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